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Black swans and bonanzas: Market tips, bold calls and eyecatchers for 2017
December 7, 2016 / 3:50 PM / a year ago

Black swans and bonanzas: Market tips, bold calls and eyecatchers for 2017

LONDON (Reuters) - Looking at what 2017 may hold for markets, the broad view among investors is that the 35-year bull run in bonds is over, inflation is back and central banks are maxed out.

A panel displays global stock indexes at the Hong Kong Exchanges in Hong Kong, China December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Also, for the first time in a decade, any stimulus to the global economy will come from governments.

That - after a year in which politics, economics and finance were turned on their head - suggests bets on further increases in bond yields, developed world stocks and the dollar. Emerging market currencies, stocks and bonds are meanwhile expected to struggle under the weight of higher U.S. bond yields.

Cyclical equities are favored over defensives, banks should benefit from steepening bond yield curves, while infrastructure spending could boost housing and construction stocks.

That’s the consensus. But what goes against the grain and catches the eye? Where might the wrinkles appear?

1. Bond yields to fall?

HSBC, which correctly called the recent slide in U.S. bond yields to historic lows, says bond yields may well rise next year and expects 10-year Treasury yields to hit 2.5 percent.

But only in the first quarter.

After that, HSBC’s bond strategist Steven Major reckons they will fall back to 1.35 percent because 2.5 percent would be unsustainable under tightening financial conditions, dragging on the economy and constraining the Fed. A bold call.

2. Black Swans

Economists at Societe Generale illustrate a graphic with four “black swans” that could darken the market landscape next year. The tail risks they see as most likely to alter next year’s outlook stem from political uncertainty (30 percent risk factor), the steep increases in bond yields (25 percent), a hard landing in China (25 percent), and trade wars (15 percent).


3. More QE from the ECB?

Inflation has bottomed out, the Fed is raising rates, and other central banks are beginning to reduce their stimulus. The ECB will taper its 80 billion euros-a-month QE program, right?

Maybe not.

RBC Capital Markets expects the ECB to extend in December and consider extending again later next year as inflation and growth fall short. “Even towards the end of 2017, the discussion will be very similar to that seen at present: how can the ECB continue to stimulate the economy?”

That could widen the already yawning gap between 10-year U.S. and euro zone yields, which this week hit its widest in over quarter of a century at 210 basis points.

4. The euro also rises

“The dollar is overvalued versus other G10 currencies” is not something you hear too often.

But it’s the view of Swiss wealth management giant UBS, which predicts the euro will end next year at $1.20, drawing support from the ECB tapering QE. Undervalued sterling will rally too, picking itself up from its Brexit mauling.

5. The “good carry” in EM

Few dispute that a higher dollar and U.S. yields next year will hurt emerging markets. Goldman Sachs expects both, but two of its top 2017 trade tips involve buying EM assets.

One is going long on an equally weighted FX basket of Brazilian real, Russian rouble, Indonesian rupiah and South African rand versus short on an equally weighted basket of Korean won and Singapore dollar to earn “the good carry”. The other is going long Brazilian, Indian and Polish equities.

6. $1 trillion U.S. earnings bonanza

How much offshore earnings can U.S. companies bring back if president-elect Donald Trump follows through with his pledge to cut corporate tax?

About $1 trillion, according to estimates by Deutsche Bank. This could give U.S. stocks, already at record highs, another shot in the arm.

Citi reckons global equities will rise 10 percent next year, led by developed markets. A 10 percent rise in the dollar and cut in U.S. corporation tax to 20 percent could add 6 percent to global earnings per share. “If other countries also cut taxes then EPS could rise further, even against an uninspiring economic backdrop.”

7. China shop bull returns

Chinese stocks will bounce back into a roaring bull market, predicts Morgan Stanley. It reckons the Shanghai Composite index will end next year up 36 percent at 4,400 points, with EPS growth at 6 pct.

This is predicated on there being no significant U.S.-China trade protectionism conflict, although the threat of one and the relatively early stage of the Chinese recovery will keep domestic monetary conditions loose in the first half of 2017. Tougher property sector rules are also starting to divert wealthy individuals’ capital towards stocks, MS says.

8. Yuan over the eight

Many FX analysts expect the Chinese yuan to continue falling, but few see it breaking on the weak side of 8.00 per dollar. Those at Deutsche Bank do, albeit not until 2018, though that would still mark a sizeable fall next year for a currency tightly controlled by Beijing. A rising dollar is one side of the equation. And on the other, Deutsche reckons Beijing will not want to see reserves fall below $3 trillion, meaning capital outflows will hit the currency harder than the last couple of years when reserves have been used to cushion the yuan’s fall.

9. Bremain?

Here’s the scenario: Britain stays in the European Union. Goodbye Brexit, hello Bremain. It’s highly unlikely, and analysts at Nomura don’t think it will happen. But it’s one of 10 potential “gray swan” events for next year they reckon investors should at least consider. “As 2016 was the year politics ‘stumped the consensus’, why couldn’t 2017 do the same?”

One possible path to such an outcome would be UK-led, via a general election, perhaps triggered by court proceedings or whether London would need Scottish and Welsh parliaments’ consent. Alternatively, the EU could offer the reforms the UK has been asking for all along, tempting Britain to stay. One related investment idea could be to go long sterling/yen, Nomura says.

Nomura's 10 gray swans for 2017:

Reporting by Jamie McGeever; Additional reporting by Atul Prakash and Vikram Subhedar; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt and John Stonestreet

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