Investors will need to weather more volatility in order to capture opportunities in 2019, according to the Year Ahead report from UBS, the world’s leading wealth manager.

Global economic growth will decelerate next year to 3.6% from 3.8% in 2018, and company earnings will grow at a slower rate. However, a 2019 recession still looks unlikely, and the price of many financial assets has already moved to reflect uncertain prospects.

UBS Global Wealth Management’s Chief Investment Office (CIO) enters the year with an overweight position in global equities. However, as the market cycle matures, investors should diversify and hedge their portfolios to guard against volatility as well as political and other risks. They should also take advantage of growth in fields like sustainable and impact investing, and pockets of value where financial asset prices are excessively low.

Mark Haefele, Chief Investment Officer at UBS Global Wealth Management, says: “Investors should retain positions in global equities but plan for market volatility. A slight slowdown in economic and earnings growth doesn’t mean no growth, and the recent sell-off has left a number of assets more attractively valued, but investors must also take into account the tense geopolitical environment as well as monetary policy tightening.”

In its investment process, CIO seeks to test its ideas against professional investors’ views. Surveys of professional investors and wealthy US-based individuals reveal divergent outlooks for the year ahead.

Close to half of professional investors see the US lagging global markets next year, while two-thirds of individual investors surveyed expect US stocks to match or beat global equities.

Nearly half of the professionals surveyed anticipate the US dollar declining versus the euro, compared with less than one-sixth of individual investors.

The most popular asset class for professional investors entering the new year is emerging market equities. For individual investors the top pick is US stocks. Professional investors are nevertheless more optimistic than individual investors on how much upside remains in the US equity bull market.

Few professionals regard US political risk as a bigger threat than US-China trade tensions and higher interest rates. Individual investors are more concerned about US political risks than professionals are.

When asked when the next recession will start, the most common answer among professional investors is 2021. Half of the individual investors surveyed expect the next recession to start within two years.

Investment recommendations
CIO recommends that investors should retain an overweight position in global equities as we enter 2019. Nevertheless, they should also hedge against volatility by holding overweight positions in medium-duration US government bonds and the Japanese yen, as well as focusing on quality companies and avoiding excessive credit risk. They should also look to neglected areas of the market, including value stocks in the US and emerging markets, energy equities globally, and shares of financial companies in the US and China. Sustainable and impact investing continues to provide longer-term growth opportunities, as do emerging market and Japanese stocks, and US dollar-denominated emerging market sovereign bonds.

Americas
The US Federal Reserve should approach the end of its tightening cycle in 2019, while the support from US fiscal stimulus should wane. In this context, the US’s twin fiscal and current account deficits will likely weigh on the US dollar. Within Latin America, investors should keep an eye on Brazil, where the incoming administration has proposed a range of reforms that could improve the country’s fiscal sustainability.

Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) & Switzerland
The European Central Bank should start to normalize interest rates in 2019, which would support the euro against the greenback. A clear recovery by the euro is needed before the Swiss National Bank will hike rates, although the Swiss franc has limited scope to depreciate against the euro. Within emerging EMEA, CIO sees the recent sell off in crude oil prices as overdone, and expects prices to rise towards USD 85 / barrel over the next six to 12 months, supporting prospects for the Middle East. However, investors should continue to diversify globally to avoid idiosyncratic political risks in emerging EMEA as well as the Eurozone and the UK, which is scheduled to leave the European Union next year.

Asia Pacific
The Chinese yuan should continue to decline, easing 5% in trade-weighted terms against a backdrop of ongoing US-China trade tensions, slowing Chinese economic growth, and a diminishing current account surplus. By contrast, in the wake of Japan’s Abenomics program, the yen is more than 30% undervalued relative to its estimated equilibrium on a purchasing power parity basis. Japanese bond yields could also rise as the Bank of Japan embarks on a slow normalization of monetary policy.

 

Source: Business Insider

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will lead negotiations with China over tariffs, market access and structural changes to intellectual property practices over the next 90 days, the White House has confirmed, potentially signaling a harder U.S. line.
 
On Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping declared a trade truce, agreeing to hold off on new tariffs following months of escalating tension. The two sides also agreed to negotiate over the next 90 days.
 
Lighthizer leading the talks marks a shift from the administration's previous approach to China trade talks that had been largely led by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Lighthizer, an experienced trade negotiator and having just completed a new agreement with Canada and Mexico, is one of the administration's most vocal China critics.
 
"Robert Lighthizer, the ambassador, USTR, is in charge of these negotiations," White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told National Public Radio. "He's the toughest negotiator we've ever had at the USTR and he's going to go chapter and verse and get tariffs down, non-tariff barriers down and end all these structural practices that prevent market access."
 
A White House official also confirmed the decision to have Lighthizer lead the negotiations.
 
Mnuchin had said the negotiations with China would be led by Trump, with an "inclusive team" of administration officials, including himself and other cabinet officials.
 
Mnuchin led some past rounds of talks due to his relationship as the counterpart to Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the top economic adviser to Chinese President Xi Jinping. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also led a failed round of talks in Beijing in June, while mid-level Treasury officials hosted a round of discussions in August.
 
The White House said on Saturday that the talks would cover structural changes in China on forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft, services and agriculture.
 
Most of these issues were identified in USTR's "Section 301" investigation of China's intellectual property practices, which formed the basis of the U.S. tariffs imposed on Chinese goods.
 
Lighthizer said last week that China had failed to alter the "unfair, unreasonable" practices at the heart of the trade dispute.
 
 
Source: The Routers

The population of unauthorised immigrants in the United States fell to 10.7 million in 2016, its lowest level since 2004.

It was so largely due to a decline in the number of people coming from Mexico, the media reported on Wednesday, quoting a study recently released.

The report from the Pew Research Centre pewrsr.ch/2Qptbid, based on US Census data and other figures from 2016, showed the number of illegal immigrants in the United States has declined steadily.

Their numbers were peaked 12.2 million in 2007.

Researchers believe part of the reason for the decline was the economic recession that gripped the United States in 2007.

Thereafter, there was the slow recovery that followed, which limited work opportunities for migrants.

“The combination of economic forces and enforcement priorities may be working together to discourage people from arriving or sending them home,’’ said D’Vera Cohn.

Cohn is one of the authors of the Pew Research Centre report.

President Donald Trump has made immigration enforcement a focus for his administration, most recently, pressing the US Congress to authorise funding of a wall on the border with Mexico.

He has deployed troops in advance of the arrival of a caravan of migrants from Central America.

Even before Trump took office, a decline in the number of illegal immigrants from Mexico had changed the demographic profile of unauthorised migrants in the United States.

Among recent arrivals, immigrants in the United States, who overstayed a visa, were likely to outnumber people who illegally crossed the border, it said.

Overall, the Pew study was in line with previous research that found many unauthorised immigrants have been living in the United States for years.

Their children are more likely to have been born in the country than abroad.

Among the 10.7 million unauthorised immigrants, two-thirds of adults have lived in the United States for more than a decade, the Pew Research Centre study found.

Five million US-born children with American citizenship are living with parents or relatives, who are unauthorised immigrants, the study found.

 


Source: pewrsr.ch/2Qptbid

President Donald Trump seemed ready to escalate the trade war with China in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Monday.
 
Trump said it was "highly unlikely" that a planned meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit would yield a deal to prevent an increase in tariffs.
 
Trump also said he was prepared to hit another $267 billion worth of Chinese goods with tariffs — which would include duties on consumer goods like iPhones.
 
President Donald Trump seems ready to escalate the trade war with China even further as a crucial meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping nears.
 
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Monday, the president said it was "highly unlikely" that the US and China would reach a deal to prevent the 10% tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from increasing to 25% on January 1.
 
In addition, Trump told The Journal that if planned weekend talks with Xi at the G20 summit in Argentina did not go well, more tariffs could be on the way.
 
"If we don't make a deal, then I'm going to put the $267 billion additional on," Trump said.
 
Trump first announced tariffs on Chinese goods in March, ostensibly to punish the country for the theft of US intellectual property.
 
After failed negotiations on a trade deal with China, the first round of tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods went into effect in July.
 
A second round of tariffs on another $200 billion of goods went into effect in late September, and Trump has repeatedly threatened to impose a third round on the remaining imports not subject to tariffs.
 
While Trump said the third round would hit another $267 billion in goods, some reports peg the remaining amount at $257 billion.
 
After mostly avoiding consumer goods in the first two rounds of tariffs, Trump said he was also willing to place tariffs on items such as Apple's iPhone and laptops imported from China. The administration backed off plans to impose tariffs on some Apple products as part of the previous round after the tech giant lobbied the president.
 
Economists warn that tariffs on consumer goods would drive up prices for Americans, curtail consumer spending, and eventually hurt US economic growth. Trump disagreed with that assessment, instead suggesting that a low tariff rate on such goods would go unnoticed by consumers.
 
"I mean, I can make it 10%, and people could stand that very easily," he told The Journal.
 
In addition to the tariffs, the Trump administration is employing a suite of other measures to crack down on China's economic practices. For instance, the Department of Commerce is considering stricter rules on which types of technology can be exported to China, and the Justice Department has charged some Chinese companies and people with economic espionage.
 
While there were hopes a Trump-Xi meeting could deescalate the trade tensions, recent moves by the administration seem to point to a sustained trade war.
 
Perhaps most significant, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer last week released an update to the investigation into Chinese intellectual-property theft that kicked off the tariff battle. It found China had not changed any of the practices that precipitated Trump's tariff decision.
 
 
Source: Business Insider
A group of Central American migrants carrying a Mexican and a US flag try to get to El Chaparral border crossing, in Tijuana, Baja California State, Mexico, on November 25, 2018. Hundreds of migrants attempted to storm a border fence separating Mexico from the US on Sunday amid mounting fears they will be kept in Mexico while their applications for a asylum are processed.
 
US officials closed a border crossing in southern California on Sunday after hundreds of migrants tried to breach a border fence from the Mexican city of Tijuana, US authorities announced.
 
The US Customs and Border Protection office in San Diego, California, said on Twitter that it had closed both north and south access to vehicle traffic at the San Ysidro border post, before also suspending pedestrian crossings.
 
Video clips posted on Twitter showed large numbers of migrants dashing across a shallow concrete waterway toward the border. Several thousand migrants, most from Central America, have been gathering in Tijuana in hopes of entering the US.
 
 
Source: Newsonline.com
The banking sector in the U.S. has reported a combined profit of $62 billion in the third quarter of 2018.
 
The profit is up by 29.3 per cent from the figure in same period in 2017, according to quarterly data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
 
The regulator said in a statement on Tuesday that the profits were boosted by a lower effective tax rate and higher operating revenues.
 
Only 3.5 per cent of banks reported net losses, down from four per cent a year ago.
 
The number of problem banks also fell from 81 in the second quarter to 71 in the third quarter, the lowest number since the third quarter of 2007.
 
The FDIC’s Chair, Jelena McWilliams, said that while profitability was strong, the industry had seen heightened exposure to credit and interest-rate risk as lenders searched for higher-yield loans.
 
“Attention to the prudent management of these risks will position banks to be resilient so that they can sustain lending,” Ms McWilliams told reporters.
 
“The competition to attract loan customers has been strong and it will remain important for banks to maintain their underwriting discipline and credit standards.”
 
 
Source: The Router
 
President Donald Trump heralded new sanctions the US plans to impose on Iran with a knock-off image referencing HBO's "Game of Thrones."
 
The White House is planning to reimpose all the US sanctions on Iran that had been removed under the Iran nuclear deal, which was signed in 2015.
 
The sanctions, scheduled to take effect Monday, a date previously announced by the Treasury Department, will cover Iran's shipping, financial, and energy sectors.
 
Trump withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehension Plan of Action, in May, calling it "defective at its core." The deal was narrowly designed to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon for at least 10 years, and while Iran has widely been viewed to be in compliance, the Trump administration has other grievances the deal did not address.
 
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined 12 demands that Iran must meet to avoid the sanctions. They include ending military engagement in Syria and halting all nuclear and ballistic-missile development.
 
 
Source: Business Insider
US President Donald Trump and his children are accused of "deliberately" scamming Americans by encouraging them to invest in a multilevel marketing company, according to a complaint filed in US federal court on Monday.
 
The complaint accuses Trump and his children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric, of luring vulnerable investors to buy into three businesses with "a pattern of racketeering activity," according to The New York Times, which first reported on the lawsuit.
 
Trump was reportedly paid millions of dollars in exchange for promoting ACN, a telecommunications marketing company; Trump Network, another multilevel marketing company which sold vitamins and health promoting products; and Trump Institute, which allegedly gave "extravagantly priced multiday training seminars."
 
Some of the payments were made in secret, according to the lawsuit, which also alleges the Trumps "were aware that the vast majority of consumers would lose whatever money they invested."
 
Trump, who allegedly promoted ACN to investors without disclosing he was being paid, was heard in at least one ACN marketing video describing the company as being on the "cusp of technological advancements that will change the way we communicate."
 
"I'm here to tell you about a company that provides ... essential components for success," Trump said in the video.
 
"That's probably even better than real estate, I like real estate," Trump continued. "But I think this is probably better. It's certainly more advanced."
 
"You have a great opportunity before you with ACN. Without any of the risks most entrepreneurs have to take," Trump added. "Believe me. It's ultimately a dream come true."
 
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of four anonymous plaintiffs, who withheld their identities due to "serious and legitimate security concerns given the heated political environment," according to their attorneys.
 
The plaintiffs reportedly became investors in ACN after watching Trump's promotional videos, and were charged a $499 registration fee to sell products like videophones, The Times and CNBC reported on Monday.
 
ACN, like other multilevel marketing companies, allegedly advertised incentives for recruiting other investors or sales staff to join its programme.
 
One plaintiff claimed to have joined ACN in 2014 after attending a recruitment meeting that included a video of Trump's endorsement. After spending thousands of dollars attending other meetings, she only earned $38 from the company, according to the lawsuit.
 
Trump Organisation officials questioned the timing of the lawsuit, which comes days before the November 6 midterm election: "This is clearly just another effort by opponents of the President to use the court system to advance a political agenda," attorney Alan Garten said to The Times.
 
"Their motivations are as plain as day," Garten added.
 
A spokesperson for the plaintiff's attorneys denied the allegation and said the lawsuit was filed "because it is ready now," according to CNBC.
 
"No matter when this was filed, the Trump Org would say it was politically motivated," the spokesperson said.
 
 
Source: New York Times
Global markets fall once again on Tuesday after brief two-day relief rally.
A "poisonous brewing cauldron of geopolitical and economic issues" is to blame for the risk-off sentiment gripping investors.
Losses are led by Asia, which has seen virtually all major indexes drop more than 2% on Tuesday.
Europe is following suit, with Germany's DAX down more than 1.2%. US futures are also pointing to substantial losses.
The JSE fell almost 2%.
You can follow the latest developments in global markets at Markets Insider.
Global markets slumped once again on Tuesday as the continent's two-day-long relief rally came to an abrupt end, thanks to a cocktail of negative drivers.
 
All major Asian indexes lost ground during Tuesday's session, with the FTSE China A50 the biggest casualty, down more than 3%. Other mainland Chinese indexes lost more than 2%, with the Shanghai and Shenzhen Composite indexes both down around 2.2%.
 
Losses were not contained to China, however, with Japan's Nikkei losing 2.7%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropping close to 3% after a sharp fall into the close.
 
There was no single catalyst for the losses, with growing geopolitical tensions between Saudi Arabia and the West over the death of journalist Jamal Khashosggi, resurfaced fears about President Trump's trade war, and generally waning confidence in the Chinese economy all partially to blame.
 
"Big swings in the Chinese markets continued, with the previous two-day rally moving sharply into reverse. After mulling over Chinese stimulus plans the market is seeing these stimulus measures as cushioning a fall rather than boosting the economy," Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group said in a morning briefing.
 
"It was all too much for the markets on Tuesday. The poisonous brewing cauldron of geopolitical and economic issues led to one of those opens as nuance-less as it was red," Connor Campbell, analyst at Spreadex added.
 
Fears abound that the sell-off in China could get worse as a wave of forced share selling kicks in for Chinese companies who use their shares as colleteral for loans.
 
According to Bloomberg, about 4.18 trillion yuan (R8.7 trillion) worth of shares have been put up by company founders and other major investors as collateral for loans, accounting for about 11% of the country's stock market capitalization, based on calculations using China Securities Depository and Clearing Corporation data.
 
The South China Morning Post, citing a report by Tianfeng Securities, said earlier in the week tha tmore than 600 company stocks have fallen to levels where forced sales may kick in.
 
"It's a vicious cycle: share drops lead to liquidation and liquidation leads to further share drops," Wang Zheng, chief investment officer at Jingxi Investment Management told the South China Morning Post last week.
 
The JSE's all share index was down 1.7% by midday, but the rand was marginally stronger at R14.35/$.
 
Naspers, down 3% to R2,725.58, and Nedcor, which lost 3.7% to R225.03 were some of the worst hit among large companies. 
 
Gold stocks are booming again, with Sibanye up 11% to R11.64. Nervous investors are buying gold, which jumped a percent to $1,234/oz this morning.
 
European stocks have also witnessed losses in the first hour of trading, although not as severe as those in Asia. By midday, Germany's DAX has dropped 1.2%, while the UK's benchmark FTSE 100 index is around 0.7% lower. The Euro Stoxx 50 broad index is down 0.8%.
 
"Sentiment continues to take a hit from a combination of geopolitical tensions including the growing isolation of Saudi Arabia, Italy's defiant stance towards the ECB and Brexit," Lawler said.
 
US futures are also pointing to big losses when markets open stateside, with the Nasdaq pointing to an opening loss of 1.1%, while both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones look to fall around 0.9%
 
 
Source: Bloomberg news
China's government has hit back at the Trump administration, accusing the US president of "bullying" over his aggressive tactics in the escalating trade conflict between the two nations, saying it will "rise up" should a full-scale trade war break out.
"China doesn't want a trade war, but would rise up to it should it break out," Zhong Shan, China's minister for commerce said in a statement.
 
So far, the Trump administration has placed tariffs on $250 billion (R3.7 trillion) worth of Chinese goods, affecting more than 5,000 products. The president, however, has said he is willing to "go to 500"- a colloquial term for placing tariffs on all US imports from China.
 
What was initially seen as an empty threat is now viewed by many observers as a genuine possibility after the latest round of tariffs were announced in late September, after which Trump doubled down on his threats to tax all Chinese imports. Such threats, Zhong said, will not lead China to back down and offer the US concessions.
 
"There is a view in the US that so long as the US keeps increasing tariffs, China will back down. They don't know the history and culture of China," he said.
 
"This unyielding nation suffered foreign bullying for many times in history, but never succumbed to it even in the most difficult conditions," he continued.
 
"The US should not underestimate China's resolve and will."
 
Zhong's comments came just a few hours after President Trump once again accused China of taking advantage of the US over trade.
 
"We can't have a one-way street," Trump said during a press conference to discuss the resignation of UN Ambassador Nikki Haley on Tuesday afternoon.
 
"It's got to be a two-way street. It's been a one-way street for 25 years. We've got to make it a two-way street. We've got to benefit also," he told reporters.
 
Alongside increasing tariffs, communications between the two sides have become more and more strained in recent weeks. China in September called off planned talks between mid-level officials, and this week US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo exchanged displeased words with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi during a trip to Beijing.
 
"Recently, as the US side has been constantly escalating trade friction toward China, it has also adopted a series of actions on the Taiwan issue that harm China's rights and interests, and has made groundless criticism of China's domestic and foreign policies," Wang said at a press conference.
 
"We demand that the US side stop this kind of mistaken action."
 
Pompeo hit back, saying the US has "great concerns about the actions that China has taken."
 
A currency war brewing?
Away from the escalating tensions over trade, the US Treasury has shown new concern about China's devaluation of the renminbi, an action it believes Beijing is using to strengthen its hand with regard to trade by making Chinese goods cheaper.
 
"As we look at trade issues there is no question that we want to make sure China is not doing competitive devaluations," Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said in an interview with the Financial Times published on Wednesday.
 
"We are going to absolutely want to make sure that as part of any trade understanding we come to that currency has to be part of that."
 
Trump has frequently criticised China for his belief that Beijing is artificially weakening its currency to make Chinese exports more competitive, something he believes Beijing is doing to hurt the US economy.
 
In August, he claimed that Beijing is a "currency manipulator."
 
 
Source: Business Insider
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