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Weekly ETF Monitor for week ending 19 July 2019

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Jul 22, 2019

This week's highlights Global equities ended the week lower on ongoing geopolitical risks and mixed economic data. The Australian share market posted a modest gain, with small cap ETFs (SMLL and VSO) outperforming. Oil prices slumped on the prospect of easing U.S.-Iran tensions and demand concerns. OOO declined 7.5% for the week and global energy companies (FUEL) were also impacted. Technology heavy funds including NDQ and CNEW were also amongst the week’s poorest performers. Precious metals benefited from the risk-off sentiment, pushing higher. Spot gold added 0.7%, hitting new 6-year highs, while silver jumped 6.4%. ETPMAG was the week’s top performing ETF, while platinum (ETPMPT), gold (QAU and GOLD) and a basket of four precious metals (ETPMPM) were all amongst the top performers. Gold mining ETFs (MNRS and GDX) benefited, each adding over 6% for the week. Total flows into domestically domiciled ETFs were $199m, while outflows totalled $35m. The biggest inflows were into cash and fixed income funds (AAA, IAF, HBRD, CRED and ISEC). Gold (GOLD) also saw strong flows. The largest outflow was from UBA. STW and AAA were the most traded funds last week, while A200 and VHY saw above average volumes. ETFS Physical Silver (ETPMAG) returned 7.1% for the week and the metal is now trading at US$16.20 per ounce, over 14% above its May low. Silver has lagged gold in recent years, despite growing industrial demand from technology-related industries, with the closely-monitored gold-to-silver price ratio recently touching levels not seen since 1992.

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Weekly ETF Monitor for week ending 12 July 2019

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Jul 16, 2019

This week's highlights: Over the week BetaShares Crude Oil Index ETF - Ccy Hedged (OOO) returned 4.7% and BetaShares Commodities Basket ETF - Ccy Hedged (QCB) was up 2.5%. This resembled a strong trend as much of the top performers were hedged commodity products. The worst performers over the week were Robotics and Property ETFs. BetaShares Global Robotics and Artificial Intelligence ETF (RBTZ) ended the week down 3.5% and ETFS ROBO Global Robotics and Automation ETF (ROBO) was down 3.2%. YTD performance remains best among geared Australian and U.S. Equity funds with the worst performers conversely the Australian and U.S. bear funds. The best performers over the previous twelve months are ETFS Physical Palladium (ETPMPD) up 74.2% and VanEck Vectors Australian Property ETF (MVA) up 30.1%. Inflows for the week totalled $258 Million and outflows $107 Million. Notably SPDR S&P/ASX 200 Fund (STW) had outflows of $81.9 Million and BetaShares Australia 200 ETF (A200) had inflows of $60.5 Million. Cash, Bond and Gold ETFs also saw a steady inflows.

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Weekly ETF Monitor for week ending 5 July 2019

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Jul 09, 2019

This week's highlights The Australian share market rallied last week following the RBA’s 25 basis point rate cut. Property ETFs responded strongly, with MVA, VAP and SLF all amongst the top performers. Domestic equity income funds including DIV and EINC also performed strongly. The U.S. dollar gained ground following better than anticipated employment numbers on Friday, tempering expectations of a Fed rate cut this month. Currency funds AUDS, POU and EEU were amongst the worst performing ETFs for the week. ETFS Physical Gold (GOLD) pulled-back from its recent peak falling 0.8% for the week, while gold miners (MNRS) fell 1.0%. Crude oil (OOO) dipped 1.6% on global demand concerns. Total flows into domestically domiciled ETFs were $200m, while outflows totalled $40m. The biggest inflows were into defensive assets such as cash and fixed income/hybrid funds (AAA, IAF, HBRD and BILL) and gold (GOLD). The bulk of outflows were from STW. STW and AAA were the most traded fund last week, while VAP and MGE saw above average volumes. ETFS Physical Palladium (ETPMPD) returned 4.0% for the week and is up 75.2% over the past 12 months. Palladium has all-but recovered from its recent dip and could test all-time highs close to US$1,600 per ounce in the coming weeks.

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The Opportunity of India

Jul 09, 2019

Product in focus: ETFS Reliance India Nifty 50 ETF (ASX Code: NDIA) Key Points The Indian economy is primed to benefit from the structural reforms of the Modi government. Domestic consumption is powering 60% of Indian GDP. The average age in India is just 28 supplying a young and agile workforce that are increasingly connected. India is the world’s largest democracy, the sixth largest economy and has a population of 1.3 billion, 54 times the number of people in Australia for approximately the same land size. The nation is undergoing a rapid transformation that was truly initiated by the liberalisation of the economy beginning in 1991. Structural changes to the economy have been brought about in recent years by the Modi government aiding the significant growth seen today. The fundamental driver of this growth is the increase in domestic consumption throughout the nation. Structural Reform Key reforms initiated by Modi have begun the process of formalising India’s economy and created a better environment for business. This has been reflected in the World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking, India is now ranked 77th in the world and significantly, this represents an increase in 53 positions over two years. Contributors to this progress include the introduction of GST in mid-2017 which centralised 17 indirect taxes that were previously levied. 2017 also saw the sovereign credit rating upgraded one level by Moody’s, the first movement in this in 14 years. The evolution of the economy can be seen through the fundamental shift from the previous agrarian focus to the more service-based economy we see today. Consumption A 2019 report by the World Economic Forum identified domestic consumption as the key driver of India’s economy today, powering 60% of GDP. The report outlines five significant contributors to India’s growing consumption: 1. Income growth India is undergoing a transformation in wealth, it is projected that 25 million households will be lifted out of poverty by 2030, reducing the percentage of households in poverty from 15% today to less than 5%. This is introducing a huge expansion of the middle class and uptick in consumption of everyday items. 2. Urbanisation 40% of Indian’s will live in urban areas by 2030 as there is a steady migration from rural regions to cities and increased population density urbanises previously small towns. This movement is compounding the need for core infrastructure developments to cope with additional population pressures. 3. Demographic change India has a median age of just 28 years. This young and, comparatively, highly educated work force will remain young through to 2030 with an expected median age of 31 years. Compare this to the expected median age in Australia of 40 years and China at 42 years. (1) 4. Technology and innovation Indian’s have embraced the new digital age, and in many cases, they have leap-frogged many of those technologies that emerged during the dot-com bubble. 80% of Indian’s use their mobile as the primary platform for accessing the internet with the desktop computer bypassed completely. This has created a highly engaged and agile market who are adopting many of the new technologies the share economy has to offer. Rideshare company Ola, a strong rival to Uber, was valued at $6.2 billion in May 2019 and has set a goal to bring one million electric vehicles onto the roads by 2021. (2) Projections suggest there will be 1.1 billion internet users in India by 2030, with each representing further opportunities to extend consumption and engage with the new service-based economy. 5. Changing consumer attitudes As the Indian population has become wealthier and more connected, the core attitudes of consumers are also changing. The growing middle class has led to the emergence of sectors in the market that were previously very small, including dining out, personal hygiene, organic food, health and fitness. Opportunity Awaits The Nifty50 Index is primed to benefit from the structural reforms currently happening in India. Financials make up almost 40% of the Nifty50 and these companies will arguably benefit the most from recent changes. With the policy of demonetisation and the introduction of GST boosting their performance. The second biggest overall sector in the index is the consumer sector, making up about 17% of the index, which will also benefit from India’s growing middle class, household consumption and urbanisation. India’s overall economic growth has been driven through domestic consumption and the Nifty50 is no different, with the index constituents generating a significant portion of their revenue onshore, despite their large cap nature. As global volatility increases with the threat of trade wars and political uncertainty, India can rely on its domestic consumption to achieve the 7.5% forecast growth in 2020 (IMF, April 2019). 1 https://www.statista.com/statistics/260493/median-age-of-the-population-in-australia/ 2 https://www.financialexpress.com/industry/sme/indias-2nd-most-valuable-startup-ola-valuation-to-hit-6-2-billion-new-funding-proposal-by-hyundai-kia-motors-show/1565464/

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The Case for Gold Keeps Growing

Jul 09, 2019

Published: 9th July 2019 Product in Focus: ETFS Physical Gold (ASX Code: Gold) Key Points Gold has been on a run in 2019 reaching a new all time high in AUD terms of over A$2000/ounce. Gold price is influenced by economic uncertainty and momentum Demand is high, driven by central bank and ETF purchasing Gold has been on a great run in 2019. US$ spot gold is up 9.1% since the start of the year and has recently been trading above US $1,400 for the first time since 2013 (as at 8th July 2019). In Australian dollar terms gold is hitting new all-time highs above A$2,000 an ounce. Fuelled by equity market volatility in late 2018 and recent heightened expectations of easing monetary policy, gold has performed precisely as would have been predicated by anyone anticipating the broader macro forces at work over the past year. Equity market volatility in early 2018 triggered a rally, which subsided as markets regrouped and set sail for new highs in the third quarter. Volatility returned the fourth quarter of 2018, driving gold higher again. All of this occurred with the backdrop of an abrupt shift in monetary policy from major central banks. To put gold’s price activity into context, it is worth looking at the historic drivers of the gold price. Research by the World Gold Council highlights the four broad categories of factors that influence the price of gold; This article looks at these four key factors in the context of the current market from a global perspective. Factor 1: Economic Expansion Despite much talk about the uncorrelated and counter-cyclical aspects of gold, like most assets, demand for gold is at least somewhat driven by the overall level activity and wealth in the global economy. Where savings and investment levels are high, demand for gold is high. Recent years have seen growing demand for gold from both India and China as levels of disposable wealth have grown. These two countries now account for more than 50% of global demand for gold. Conversely, a slowdown in the technology sector in late 2018 saw industrial demand fall by 3% in Q1 2019. While a broader economic slowdown seems to be in progress, the diversity of demand for gold and its traditional role as a strategic investment asset makes it unlikely that a reduction in economic activity will have a significant negative price impact on gold in the short-term. Factor 2: Risk and Uncertainty As an investment asset gold is commonly deployed as a portfolio diversifier, inflation hedge and quasi-insurance policy. Gold has shown persistently low levels of correlation with stocks and bonds over the long term, which means that the addition of gold to a portfolio is often able to improve risk-adjusted returns by adding diversification. Figure 3, below, shows the impact of adding gold to a typical balanced portfolio invested across Australian and international equities and fixed income (as represented by Vanguard’s LifeStrategy Balanced Fund). The conclusion here is that over the long-run a relatively small allocation to gold in a portfolio can have a consistent impact on the risk/return profile of the portfolio. In addition, gold can also have a substantial impact when other asset returns are stressed. This is evidenced in Figure 3(b) by the lower drawdowns, or losses experienced during the largest negative events. This leads us to gold’s commonly cited role as an “event risk” hedge. When major, unexpected events occur gold has, time and again, had a better outcome than equity markets. Figure 4, below, shows how gold fared versus the S&P 500 and ASX 200 through a selection of major financial events over the past four decades. When negative market events occur, gold’s correlation with mainstream asset classes tends to reduce and even become negative. This is in stark contrast to many other “alternative” assets, such as hedge fund strategies. During the global financial crisis, these were seen to be highly correlated to equity markets as investors simultaneously rushed to the exit of anything but the safest stores of value. Not only is gold highly liquid, its other important feature is that it has no credit risk. Unlike other asset classes, during times of financial stress when risk premiums are raised correlations between other assets rise as investors simultaneously look to sell, while gold often moves the other way on safe-haven buying. While such major events are unpredictable by nature, there is a growing case to be made that equity market valuations are currently stretched and that the volatility seen in early and late 2018 could well return in the near-term. Even if the monetary authorities are ahead of the curve and manage to engineer a soft landing, late-phase bull-markets are synonymous with bouts of volatility. As with any insurance policy, premiums are paid in the hope you never need to make a claim. Factor 3: Opportunity Cost The most common argument made against investing in gold is that gold has no intrinsic value because it produces no income and in fact produces negative income if you account for storage and security costs. This is certainly true in a literal sense. As has already been demonstrated, however, this should not detract from the role gold can play in a portfolio and the potential value it adds. The opportunity cost associated with holding gold is driven by the income and gains forgone by investing in gold over other asset classes. This is clearest in relation to bonds - when interest rates are high the relative cost of owning gold is high. Bonds may provide the necessary diversification, while also providing attractive levels of income. When yields are low, however, that cost of owning gold is reduced, making gold a more attractive play. In cases where yields are negative, as we currently see across Japan and the eurozone, gold effectively provides a positive yield. In the current market, not only are interest rates at the low end of the historic range, but monetary authorities, most importantly in the U.S., but also in Australia and Europe, have recently shifted from a normalisation/tightening bias, to a stimulatory/easing bias. Figure 5, below, demonstrates the very close relationship between gold and the U.S. 2-year Treasury yield over the past 18 months. Furthermore, over the past two easing cycles in the U.S. between 2001-03 and between 2007-08 gold appreciated by 31% and 17% respectively. Research by the World Gold Council also suggests that not only do lower interest rates raise demand for gold, but that interest rates have a greater impact on gold in periods where there is a shift in stance, which is exactly what we have seen over the past few months. Markets are now pricing a 100% probability of a Fed cut at the end of July. The likelihood of this was less than 20% as recently as late-May. Factor 4: Momentum Like most assets, gold is susceptible to trends and changes in momentum as it moves in and out of favour and the current trend is overwhelmingly positive. A key area of investment demand is from exchange traded funds (ETFs). Figure 6 shows that global ETF holdings have been steadily rising since early 2016. There are now over 74 million troy ounces of gold supporting physically-backed ETFs, which provide investors with access to gold on most global stock exchanges. ETF users range from larger institutional to small retail investors. Central bank demand is also growing and has been doing so since 2010. Net purchases are at historic highs and diversified across a wide range of nations. According to the World Gold Council 9 central banks added more than a tonne of gold to their reserves in Q1 2019. Conclusion In summary, gold has picked-up a strong tail-wind in recent months. Demand for gold continues to grow on multiple fronts. The case for using gold as a portfolio diversifier is also becoming clearer as interest rates decline and future growth prospects of global economies are questioned. For investors who are concerned with the risk of drastic, unexpected events it is hard to go past the track record of gold in helping to reduce losses in such scenarios. How to invest? Investors looking to add gold exposure to their portfolios can do so via ETFS Physical Gold (ASX: GOLD). GOLD is the oldest and largest gold ETF traded on the ASX. It is fully-backed by physical gold bullion vaulted on behalf of investors in the fund. GOLD charges a management fee of 0.40% per annum.

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Weekly ETF Monitor for week ending 28 June 2019

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Jul 02, 2019

This week's highlights Global equity markets softened last week ahead of the resumption of U.S.-China trade talks. Resources and commodity stocks outperformed last week as safe-haven assets gained favour. Gold reached new 6-year highs moving above US$1,400 per ounce, while OZR, QAU and MNRS were amongst the top performers. The worst performers over the week were actively managed products MGE, MHG and MICH. With real estate and infrastructure products generally having a downward trend. Total flows into domestically domiciled ETFs were $342m, while outflows totalled $17m for the week. The biggest inflows were into broad-based domestic equity funds (STW, A200 and MVW) as well as cash (AAA and BILL) and a range of equity and fixed income funds. ETFS Physical Gold (GOLD) saw A$24.5m of inflows for the month of June. STW was the most traded fund last week, while VAF and GOLD saw above average volumes. ETFS Physical Gold (GOLD) and ETFS Physical Precious Metals Basket (ETPMPM) both hit since inception highs last week.

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