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The first month of 2017 has been dominated by political headlines, with the swearing in of President Trump followed by a flurry of executive orders and memoranda. The US markets kept aside all uncertainties and focused on the new President’s aim of reducing corporate taxes, reduce bureaucracy and insisting on local production in the US. The S&P 500 was up 2.0% in January - it has gained 7.4% since the US election in November. The fourth-quarter GDP release showed that the US economy grew by 1.6% year-on-year (y/y) in 2016, the slowest annual growth rate since 2011.The UK Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech outlining her plans for Brexit negotiations. She confirmed that the UK would not look to retain access to the single market but would seek a free trade agreement with European neighbours. The middle of 2017 will also see the ECB outlining the rate of asset purchases for the next year and drawing out a path for the gradual reduction of monthly purchases by the ECB to zero. Stronger growth, higher inflation and the potential for ECB tapering have put upward pressure on European government bond yields. The German 10-year Bund yield reached 0.4% in January, its highest level since January 2016.The fourth-quarter GDP release for China showed that the economy grew by 6.8% y/y, slightly faster than expectations of 6.7%. Industrial production and retail sales also showed continued signs of stabilisation. Investors broadly expect Chinese data to remain solid throughout 2017 in the build up to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in autumn this year.At home, markets welcomed the post-demonetization era in January. Corporate earnings were marginally better than revised expectations implying that disruptions were not as acute as feared. However we need to see the results of the March quarter before coming to a conclusion on the impact. Especially in Financials, any borrower turning sour post the 8th November announcement would not be 90 days past due as of December and may show up as an NPA only in this quarter.
Nifty-50 Index ended with 4.6% gains in January. At the beginning of the month, markets were enthused by global cues after US Federal Reserve’s minutes suggested a less-hawkish stance from policymakers. Sentiment remained positive on account of expectations of an expansionary Budget to counter any softness on demonetization. Corporate results so far have been better than expectations.Outperforming sectors were Materials on signs of better global growth and telecom due to potential sector consolidation with two of the top 5 players confirming that talks were on for a possible business amalgamation. Healthcare and IT underperformed on fears of increased protectionism from the new US Administration.FPIs sold US$181m in the cash segment whereas Domestic Institutional Investors invested US$697m during the month. The Government concluded a divestment of central PSU’s through an ETF tranche garnering nearly Rs60bn. The issue saw demand nearly for twice the amount.
Fixed Income markets saw yields easing in the month of January. Yield on the 10 year benchmark moved lower to 6.41% from 6.51% in December, down 10 basis points. Indian Rupee was flattish on January 31, 2017 at 67.87 from 67.92 on December 30th, 2016.Index of Industrial Production (IIP) surged sharply to 5.7% in November vs -1.8% in October, partly led by base effect and inventory stocking with the de-monetization impact yet to be reflected. Within manufacturing, capital goods recorded robust growth after several months of contraction. Mining and electricity also picked up.Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) fell further in December to 3.4% vs 3.6% in November led by lower food inflation and core inflation. The impact of de-monetization is difficult to ascertain as the decline in food inflation was not broad-based with vegetables falling by 12% over a Month while cereal prices rose. The decline in core CPI was driven by “Miscellaneous-Personal care” segment which fell due to sharp correction in gold/silver and ornaments. Wholesale Price Inflation (WPI) moved up to 3.39% in December vs 3.15% in November led by fuel & power inflation.December trade deficit declined to $10.4bn vs $13bn in November, led by a correction in gold imports as well as a recovery in exports. Export growth rebounded last month with strong growth in the non-oil exports segment.FY 2018 budget expectations, RBI Monetary Policy Committee meeting, Global events especially dollar movement and commodity price movements will be watched for future cues on interest rates.
Max Life aggregate AUM crossed Rs 40,000 crores and witnessed 20% growth on rolling year basis.
Investment newsletter - December 2016
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