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Opinion: Investors Turn Defensive following Raft of Disappointing Economic Data

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By Hussein Sayed, Chief Market Strategist at FXTM
After climbing to a one month high on Tuesday, the S&P 500 declined 2.2% yesterday and more losses are set to follow today with futures indicating a lower open.

It is no surprise that economic data will take a steep hit given the lockdown imposed on all US states, but the shockingly weak figures released yesterday explains why investors returned to being defensive.

US retail sales in March dropped 8.7%, the sharpest decline ever recorded, and worse than median expectations of a fall of 8%, and New York manufacturing activity hit an all-time low of negative 78.2%. Meanwhile, industrial production contracted 5.4%, the largest decline recorded since World War II and homebuilder sentiment also took a severe hit posting its largest monthly decline ever in April.

The terrible data released on Wednesday only reflects two weeks of lockdown following the national emergency declaration by President Trump which occurred on March 13. That suggests the hit to economic activity in April will be much more severe and possibly worse than previously anticipated.

The economy is clearly in a frozen state at the moment and it’s very difficult to know with certainty when the wheels of the economy will begin to move again. Even if Trump announces guidelines on reopening the economy later today, there is still a high risk of entering a second and possibly third round of lockdowns if the COVID-19 reinfection rate accelerates. Such uncertainty makes analysts and strategists’ jobs much tougher as many variables remain unknown and cannot be calculated in valuation models.

At this stage, we are trying to assess what type of recession we will experience. Even if infection rates begin to slow down, that doesn’t necessarily translate into a speedy recovery in economic activity. We are only three weeks into April but more than 17 million Americans have lost their jobs, and today we are bracing for more dire data in the weekly claims figures. Economists’ forecasts are ranging from 1.4 million to 8 million new jobless claims, which is an incredible range in estimates.  If the figures hit the high side of the estimates, expect to see a further decline in equities.

However, in that environment, the Dollar should remain strong as it will be driven by wider risk aversion and not the strength of the domestic economy. So for today especially, the worse the data, the stronger the Dollar.

 

 


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Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University.

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Customers to Access up N3m in New UBA Credit Card, Flexible Repayment Plans

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United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Pan African financial institution, has introduced the new UBA Naira Credit Card to its teeming customers in fulfilment of its promise to ease accessibility to funds and improve the overall standard of living.

Customers to Access up N3m in New UBA Credit Card, Flexible Repayment Plans

Kennedy Uzoka

With the new UBA Naira Credit Card, customers whose salary accounts have been domiciled with the bank for a minimum of three months and are employees of corporates under UBA’s approved counterparty list with minimum net monthly income of N250,000 are in for a stress-free business and personal lifestyle.

They will be qualified to access up to N3m credit, with extremely flexible repayment plans of as low as 10% of their monthly outstanding due.

Specifically, these customers aged between 18 and 57years who apply for the UBA credit card will also enjoy easy access to funds with a revolving line of credit and up to 45 days interest free credit, flexible repayment options; amazing discounts at select merchant locations including Restaurants, Boutiques, among other mouth-watering benefits.

The UBA credit card also allow ATM withdrawals in Nigeria or abroad wherever the Visa logo is displayed while allowing ease of payment of goods and services locally and Internationally on POS/WEB terminals where the Visa logo is displayed.

Sampson Aneke, group head, Digital Banking, UBA, said that as a bank that is interested in the welfare of Nigerians, UBA is always on the forefront of developing products and services aimed at creating wealth, easing living conditions and meeting the needs of its customers all over the world.

He said, “At UBA, we recognise that access to credit is fundamental to the creation of wealth and value in the economy.  Unfortunately, the country has been challenged in this regard with only about 2% of the population presently having access to bank loans.

“It is in addressing these developmental and household challenges that the bank has in recent times developed and introduced a number of unique lending products to the market, with the latest being the innovative UBA credit card.”

Aneke who spoke glowingly about all the benefits that the banks’ customers stand to enjoy from the credit card explained that the UBA Credit card is currently available as Visa Gold card with a card limit of between N75,000 to N1,000,000 and Visa Platinum card with a limit of between N1,000,001 to N3,000,000 and can be used locally and internationally at any ATM or POS outlet which has the Visa logo, WEB (online), and POS terminals.

“There is an interest free period  of 45 days on POS/Web transactions provided 100% repayment is made on the repayment due date and customers are entitled to 30% (annualized) of their monthly salary as credit card limit subject to the existing Debt Service Ratio (DSR).  The monthly repayment cycle will run from the 15th of every month to the 15th of the next month and the credit card statement showing transactions details within the period and the amount due for repayment will be sent to the cardholders’ registered email address,” Aneke said.

He explained that to get the card, customers can walk into any UBA branch or visit the bank’s website at www.ubagroup.com to download the credit card application form, fill it and submit to the Customer Service Officer at any UBA branch nationwide.

United Bank for Africa is a leading pan-African financial institution offering banking services to more than twenty million customers globally.

With footprint in 20 African countries and presence globally in the United Kingdom, the USA and France,

UBA is connecting people and businesses across Africa through retail, commercial and corporate banking, innovative cross border payments and remittances, trade finance and ancillary banking services.


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Access Bank in Discussion For Acquisition Of Zambian Bank

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Access Bank Plc has entered into exclusive discussions with Cavmont Capital Holdings Zambia Plc on the acquisition of Cavmont Bank Limited.

In a regulatory filing at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Access Bank said the discussions bothered on a potential transaction between Access Bank Zambia and Cavmont Bank Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cavmont Capital.

“The potential transaction relates to the sale of 100 per cent of Cavmont Capital’s interest in Cavmont Bank to Access Bank Zambia. There can be no certainty that a transaction will be agreed, nor as to the terms of any such agreement”.

According to Access Bank, the completion of a transaction would be subject to formal regulatory approvals.

“Access Bank will update the market as appropriate and in accordance with its’ disclosure obligations,” it said.

Accordingly, shareholders are advised to exercise caution when dealing in Access Banks securities until a full announcement is made.


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Record US COVID-19 Cases Can’t Halt the Equity Rally

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By Hussein Sayed, Chief Market Strategist at FXTM

Equity markets have pushed higher in Asia following an impressive last hour rally on Wall Street yesterday. The record daily increase in US COVID-19 infections and the sharp rise in deaths has proved no barrier to the bulls. Rises in Apple and Amazon stocks sent the Nasdaq Composite to a new record high of 10,492, while the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.78% and 0.68% respectively.

The current environment has led to the closure of the $2.8 billion Lansdowne Partners’ flagship equity long/short hedge fund. The lack of short winning strategies may even force more hedge funds to follow Lansdowne’s footsteps. The stimulus-driven market has made life for long/short strategies extremely difficult as relying on traditional valuation metrics to find short opportunities have failed throughout the latest bull market, and even throughout much of the previous 12 years since the Great Financial Crisis.

Fundamentals and valuations appear to be of limited influence on investor’s decision making. The fear of missing out, or “FOMO”, monetary and fiscal policy actions, low yields, lower interest rates for longer, are some of the factors that have led to this structural change in markets. If the Fed can keep zombie companies alive by keeping the lending taps open, why wouldn’t investors profit from these actions? However, the Fed cannot keep running these measures forever, and for many corporates relying on debt to stay afloat, sooner or later they will fail if they can’t return to profitability.

As always there is the good and the bad news. Depending on where investors put more weight is what drives asset prices and that is what leads to extreme highs and lows. Looking at where US stocks stand at the moment, it seems lots of the good news is already priced in. So even if bulls decide to keep pushing higher, the upside is likely to be limited from current levels unless we learn that an effective vaccine will hit the markets before year end and will be available for most of the population. If investors truly believed that the economy was returning to pre-pandemic levels soon, Gold wouldn’t be standing today at 9-year high, so it’s evident that investors who are participating in this risk-on rally are also hedging their positions by adding safe havens for their safety net.


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