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Reserve Bank of Australia Says Recent Data Positive

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Australia’s central bank said low interest rates are supporting household spending and a weaker exchange rate is aiding local firms, even as it reiterated that a subdued inflation outlook gives scope to ease policy further if needed.

“Recent domestic data had generally been positive,” the Reserve Bank of Australia said Tuesday in minutes of its Dec. 1 meeting, where it kept rates at a record-low 2 percent for a seventh month. “Even so, members recognized that there was still evidence of spare capacity in the economy.”

Australia recorded its biggest back-to-back monthly jobs gain since 1988 after adding 71,400 workers in November, and consumer confidence has held up as optimists continue to outweigh pessimists. Expectations the central bank will further lower its benchmark in coming months to boost below-average growth have moderated, with traders pricing in a 44 percent chance of a rate cut by June.

The local currency edged higher, trading at 72.58 U.S. cents at 11:35 a.m. in Sydney from 72.42 cents before the release.

Australia is grappling with the fallout from plunging prices of its commodity exports including iron ore as key trading partner China’s economy cools.

“There was overcapacity in some parts of the Chinese economy,” the RBA said. “Conditions were likely to become more difficult over time for a range of unprofitable firms.”
The central bank, which cut rates twice this year, could be gaining traction in its efforts to boost confidence to spur spending and encourage business investment.

Rate Boost

The RBA noted stronger employment growth and surveys showing above average conditions for firms. “There continued to be evidence that very low interest rates were supporting growth in household consumption and dwelling investment, and the exchange rate was adjusting to the significant declines in key commodity prices and boosting demand for domestic production,” it said.

Australian firms in industries including tourism, education and manufacturing have been assisted by a 30 percent drop in the Australian currency since the beginning of 2013.

The RBA said “subdued” wage inflation last quarter was consistent with its forecast for a “prolonged period” of weak growth in pay packets. It said consumer prices were likely to remain consistent with its target range.

“Members judged that the outlook for inflation may afford some scope for a further easing of monetary policy should that be appropriate to lend support to demand,” the minutes said, reiterating recent previous comments.

The central bank will also be waiting on the Federal Reserve meeting this week, when U.S. policy makers are expected to tighten for the first time in almost a decade, potentially exerting downward pressure on the Aussie dollar as a rate differential narrows.

Still, the RBA noted that as confidence in a U.S. move built, the Aussie dollar had appreciated over the prior month, in contrast with most other currencies.

 

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Nigel Farage Urged to Highlight Perils of DIY Investing

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Nigel Farage appears to be advocating a DIY approach to investing – and this could be “monumentally risky” for inexperienced investors, warns the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organisations.

The warning from Nigel Green, chief executive and founder of deVere Group, comes as a daily finance-orientated newsletter from the team of the Brexit Party leader and political activist urges its readers to “tell us about your successes by going it alone – leaving the money men and middlemen by the side of the road…”

Mr Farage’s email is provided for correspondence.

Mr Green comments: “Successful DIY (Do It Yourself) investing can be possible, but for most people it is not recommended – indeed, it could be a costly and traumatic accident waiting to happen.

“Going it alone can be monumentally risky for inexperienced investors as the complexities involved can sink their portfolios.

“Perhaps this is why around two-thirds of wealthy individuals have a professional financial adviser of some sort, according to new independent research from the University of Toronto.”

He continues: “I would urge anyone who extols the virtues of a DIY approach to investing to also underscore the risks and potential pitfalls to be avoided.”

A pro will help you make the best investment decisions in five key ways, says Nigel Green.

“First, helping you to diversify a portfolio. Spreading money around is vital to curb risk. However, it must be used correctly – diversification will only add real value if the new asset has a different risk profile.

“Second, investing with a plan: Unless you have a sound plan, you’re gambling, not investing.

“Third, avoiding emotional decisions. Overly emotional decisions can prove deadly when it comes to investments because they are blighted by prejudices and biases.

“Fourth, regularly reviewing your portfolio: Investments need to be consistently reviewed to ensure they still deserve their place in the portfolio and that they are still on track to reach your long-term financial objectives.

“Fifth, not focusing excessively on historical returns: The future investment situation is likely to be different from time-aged averages.”

The deVere CEO concludes: “While investing remains almost universally regarded as one of the best ways to create, grow and safeguard wealth, considering the pitfalls of getting it wrong, it could be an expensive mistake for you and your family not to seek professional advice.”

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Top Five US Oil and Gas Firms Lost $307bn in Market Value Amid COVID-19 Crisis

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Market Value of US Five Largest Companies Decline by $307bn in 2020

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the oil and gas industry was faced with slumping prices. However, with a record collapse in oil demand amid the coronavirus lockdown, the COVID-19 crisis has further shaken the market, causing massive revenue and market cap drops for even the largest oil and gas companies.

According to data presented by StockApps.com, the top five oil and gas companies in the United States lost over $307bn in market capitalization year-over-year, a 45% plunge amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Market Cap Still Below March Levels

Global macroeconomic concerns such as the US-China trade war and the oil overproduction set significant price drops even before the coronavirus outbreak. A standoff between Russia and Saudi Arabia in the first months of 2020 sent prices even lower.

After global oil demand plunged in March, Saudi Arabia proposed a cut in oil production, but Russia refused to cooperate. Saudi Arabia responded by increasing production and cutting prices. Shortly Russia followed by doing the same, causing an over 60% drop in crude oil prices at the beginning of 2020. Although OPEC and Russia agreed to cut oil production levels to stabilize prices a few weeks later, the COVID-19 crisis already hit. Statistics show that oil prices dropped over 40% since the beginning of 2020 and are hovering around $40 a barrel.

Such a sharp fall in oil price triggered a growing wave of oil and gas bankruptcies in the United States and caused a substantial financial hit to the largest gas producers.

In September 2019, the combined market capitalization of the five largest oil and gas producers in the United States amounted to $674.2bn, revealed the Yahoo Finance data. After the Black Monday crash in March, this figure plunged by 45% to $373bn. The following months brought a slight recovery, with the combined market capitalization of the top five US gas producers rising to over $461bn in June.

However, the fourth quarter of the year witnessed a negative trend, with the combined value of their shares falling to $367bn at the beginning of this week, $6.2bn below March levels.

Exon Mobil`s Market Cap Halved in 2020, Almost $155bn Lost YoY

In August, Exxon Mobil Corporation, once the largest publicly traded company globally, was dropped from the Dow Jones industrial average after 92 years. As the largest oil and gas producer in the United States, the company has suffered the most significant market cap drop in 2020.

Statistics indicate the combined value of Exxon Mobil`s shares plunged by 52% year-over-year, falling from almost $300bn in September 2019 to $144bn at the beginning of this week.

Phillips 66, the fourth largest gas producer in the United States by market capitalization, witnessed the second-largest drop in 2020. Statistics show the company`s market cap dipped by 49.6% year-over-year, landing at $22.9bn this week.

The Yahoo Finance data revealed that EOG Resources lost over $21bn in market cap since September 2019, the third-largest drop among the top five US gas producers.

Conoco Phillips witnessed a 42% drop in market capitalization amid the COVID-19 crisis, with the combined value of shares plunging by almost $30bn year-over-year.

Statistics show Chevron witnessed the smallest market cap drop among the top five companies. At the beginning of this week, the combined value of shares of the second-largest US gas producer stood at $141.5bn, a 36.9% plunge year-over-year.

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Gold Hit 26.8% ROI YTD, the Highest Increase in Value Among Top Assets

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Gold Delivers 26.8% Return on Investment Year-t-Date

As the world’s earliest form of currency, gold has long been considered a reliable store of value. Unlike banknotes, stock, or other assets, the precious metal managed to preserve the investors’ wealth throughout the years, especially in times of turmoil in the financial markets.

According to data presented by AksjeBloggen, gold hit a 26.8% YTD return on investment, the highest increase in value among top assets.

Gold Return Rate 8.5% Higher than in 2019

Investors tend to focus on gold in times of market volatility, considering it to be a ‘safe haven’ in crises like the coronavirus. In 2019, the value of gold increased by 18.3%, revealed the Blackrock data. The precious metal continued the impressive performance in 2020 with a 26.8% YTD return, 8.5% more than in 2019.

Statistics show that last year, the S&P 500 index increased in value by 31% but was outperformed by Nasdaq, which grew by 35.2%. The MSCI Europe index rose by 26.1% in 2019. China A-shares followed with a 22.3% ROI.

However, the COVID-19 crisis had a massive impact on popular assets, causing a sharp fall in their values during the first half of 2020. The Blackrock data revealed the Nasdaq YTD return hit 23.9%, 11.3% below the 2019 performance. China A stocks reached 10% ROI YTD, much under the 22.3% return in 2019.

Statistics show the S&P 500 index had an 8.4% value increase in the nine months of 2020, almost four times less than in 2019. MSCI Emerging Market Index reached a 4.9% value increase in the same period, compared to 13% in 2019.

The Blackrock data show that crude oil, FTSE 100, and MSCI Europe index witnessed the most significant drop in the nine months of 2020, with their values falling by 34.6%, 22.4%, and 11.5%, respectively.

Global Demand for Investment Gold Surged by 100% YoY

Although many investors value gold as an important portfolio asset, the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic led to a surge in global demand for the precious metal.

The World Gold Council data showed the global demand for investment gold increased significantly since the beginning of the year.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, it amounted to 279.2 metric tons. By the end of March, this figure jumped by more than 93% to 539.6 metric tons. The increasing trend continued in the second quarter of the year, with global demand for investment gold hitting 582.9 metric tons, an almost 100% jump year-over-year.

Statistics indicate the global demand for gold for investment purposes hit a record-breaking 1,152 metric tons in the first half of 2020, the highest figure so far.

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