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Market review

With solid US data, in particular strong payroll numbers, market expectations of a first rate hike in December solidified. This weighed on short-dated US Treasuries, but only exerted modest upward pressure on EM local yields with the GBI-EM Index yield rising marginally to 6.9%. There was a more pronounced impact on EM currencies, however, with most depreciating somewhat against the dollar following the strong correction in early October. As a result, unhedged local bonds (as measured by the GBI-EM Global Diversified Index) were down 2.16% over November.

Within EMFX, European currencies such as the Polish zloty (- 4.6%), Hungarian forint (-4.3%) were among the weakest in dollar terms, dragged lower with the euro by the prospect of further monetary easing from the European Central Bank. The Colombian peso (-7.7%) also struggled, hurt first by oil price volatility and poor economic data later in the month. Other key EM currencies were only modestly weaker over the month, while others such as the Turkish lira (+1.1%) – helped by a relatively favourable election outcome – and the Malaysian ringgit (+0.8%) posted positive returns.

 

Within local bond markets, market movements were relatively restricted over the month. Indonesia (+1.4%) was the top performer in the GBI-EM index, helped by inflation falling back within the central bank’s target range and a steady rise in foreign ownership of the local bonds. By contrast, rising inflation and concomitant interest rate hikes weighed on both Colombian (-1.5%) and South African (-1.4%) local sovereign bonds, with a poor 2016 Budget announcement also weighing on the latter.

Hard currency sovereign bonds generally held their value over November, with the EMBI Global Diversified Index only marginally lower at -0.06%. However, there was considerable dispersion in returns with Venezuela, Kazakhstan and Malaysia all returning above 4%, while Egypt (-6.8%), Chile (-2.2%) and Mongolia (-1.9%) were among the principal laggards.

Corporate debt, as measured by the JPM CEMBI Broad Div. Index was down 0.52% over the month, driven by a 4.4% fall in the metals and mining sector as broad commodity prices weakened further. Most other sectors were only modestly negative, but real estate was the only sector to post a positive return (+0.2%).

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