Real Reason Behind Qatar Crisis Is Natural Gas, as Saudis Issue 24 Hour Ultimatum

Gulf CrisisIn the latest escalation of the Gulf crisis in which a coalition of Saudi-led states cut off diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar, Saudi Arabia has now given Qatar a 24 hour ultimatum to fulfil 10 conditions, that have been conveyed to Kuwait, which is currently involved in the role of a mediator between Saudi and Qatar.

Whilst the official narrative for the diplomatic fallout is because – to everyone’s ‘stunned amazement’ – Qatar was funding terrorists, including a report by the FT that Qatar has directly provided $1 billion in funding to Iran and al-Qaeda spinoffs, could the real reason behind the diplomatic fallout be far simpler, and once again has to do with a long-running and controversial topic, namely Qatar’s regional natural gas dominance. Learn more

Firm Targeting Nest Eggs of UK Expats Faces SEC Probe

Securities and Exchange Commission; SECBloomberg reports that an international financial advisory company has charged upfront commissions for years on investments to UK expats, even though its SEC registration didn’t allow such commissions.

There were a lot of charges. In addition to an annual management fee, the company would charge a fee on the pension transfer that could be as high as 7%, spread over several years (known in the industry as an ‘indemnity commission’), three former employees said. Clients who transferred pensions would have to decide how to invest the money, giving salesmen another chance to earn commissions.

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The End of the Car Industry?

Roadster_2.5_windmills_trimmedOne of the most interesting parts of our jobs is having the opportunity to have great debates with some of the best fund managers in the world.

The car industry has gone relatively undisrupted for the past 100 years but is now under threat from the emergence of the electrical car. James Jones (CFA) of Momentum Global Investment Management, one of our UK regulated, discretionary fund managers, shares a recent discussion we had with one of our more aggressive growth managers – Is the way we drive about to radically change, and are we seeing the last days of the car industry?

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BofA – OPEC: Extend and Pretend

00096c2a-1600The last time OPEC (and Non-OPEC) member nations sat down to attempt a coordinated increase in oil prices by cutting production they succeeded… for about three months. Ever since then, oil has been on a gradual declining path, boosted by a surge in US shale output and declining global demand, with WTI recently even sliding sliding below OPEC’s implicit price floor of $50/barrel. Which is why on 25 May, after the failure of the first 6 month production cut, the same nations will try the same exercise, this time looking to cut output for 9 months, and hoping for a different outcome. At least that is the general expectation.

Bank of America’s Francisco Blanch has released a note previewing this week’s OPEC meeting titled “OPEC: extend and pretend“, and which boils down to the 3 choices faced by OPEC: maintain, curb, or hike output.

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Volatility: Deep Calm in the Markets

“Not since Watergate have our legal systems been so threatened, and our faith in the independence and integrity of those systems so shaken,” These were the words of Senator Richard Blumenthal of the US Judiciary on the incendiary news that President Trump has fired the Director of the FBI, James Comey. The timing of the termination, occurring whilst the presidential campaign is under investigation for possible ties to Russian collusion has raised eyebrows…

Yet those searching for some immediate negative market reaction to events reminiscent of the Nixon debacle would be hard pushed to find much of any real significance: A small slide on equity futures and a brief flight to currency safe havens (a fleeting rally on USD/JPY to a 114.32 high which swiftly retraced to a 113.63 low) were about all- Indeed the S&P500 index even ticked upwards, closing at a record high of 2399.63 on the day. What is more, the US equity markets have remained largely flat since February, whilst volatility on treasuries also remains low. What effect this latest twist will have on Trump’s longer term economic plan of tax reforms, protectionism, healthcare and infrastructure investment remains to be seen. Some indicators that it is stalling were already in place after a tumultuous first one hundred days, and it is hard to see these latest developments helping matters.

James Jones (CFA) of Momentum Global Investment Management, one of our UK regulated, discretionary fund managers, shares his view. Click here to view.

PortfolioMetrix Market Update and Portfolio Performance Review April 2017

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Politics again dominated in April with the big news for European investors being the relief that centralist Emmanuel Macron progressed to the second round of the French presidential election and has then went on to secure election ahead of Le Pen. Elsewhere, there was an announcement of a snap election in the UK and investors mulled over Trump’s first 100 days in office against the backdrop of weaker than expected US growth. Learn more

Market Update

News this past week:

  • Macron becomes youngest ever elected French President
  • Strong April jobs report points to robust US labour market
  • Eurozone economy grows 0.5% in first quarter
  • Greece agrees bailout terms with creditors
  • Volatile week for commodity prices

Macron

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