BCEAO releases $ 6 billion for West African economies

The BCEAO has just made a liquidity injection of 3350 billion FCFA ($ 6 billion) at a fixed rate of 2% in favor of several banks of the UMOA. A total of 87 financial institutions participated in the operation. The Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) made a further injection of liquidity to its member countries last week. In total, 3350 billion FCFA ($ 6 billion) were disbursed by the institution.

During the auction on September 14, 87 banks in the sub-region obtained an injection of liquidity at a fixed rate of 2%. With more than 1000 billion FCFA ($ 1.8 billion), it is the Ivory Coast which obtained the most important financing, ie 31% of the funds injected.

It is followed by Senegal with more than 580 billion FCFA ($ 1 billion), Mali with 466 billion FCFA (835 million $), Benin with 434.5 billion FCFA (777 million $) and Burkina Faso with 318 billion FCFA. ($ 569 million). Niger with 241.6 billion FCFA ($ 432 million), Togo with 219 billion FCFA (…

Investments: UBS's strategy after the Fed's decision

Mark Haefele, chief investment officer of the Swiss bank, encourages investors to increase their risk exposure. The expert favors high yield, equities from emerging countries and Europe. Mark Haefele, chief investment officer of UBS Global Wealth Management, recommends several management lines to adjust the portfolios after the Federal Reserve's decision on March 3 to lower its key rate by 1.2 percentage points to 1.25% . This is to counter the negative effects of the coronavirus on the American economy.

UBS Global Wealth Management

Such a decision, taken unanimously by the Fed's governors outside of the institution's pre-established calendar of meetings, is rather rare and corresponds to exceptional events, such as the bankruptcy of the hedge fund LTCM in 1998, the attack of New York on September 11, 2001, the bursting of the internet bubble in 2001 or the financial crisis of 2008.

Lower rates are positive for equities, but they reflect, according to the expert, degraded expectations on the economy for the coming months. Immediate consequences of the Fed's announcement: the ten-year yield on the US Treasury bill fell below 1% for the first time in its history, the euro appreciated against the dollar and gold strengthened its positive trend.

With more than 94,000 infected people in 77 countries, an expansion of the virus seems inevitable, according to Mark Haefele. Equity volatility should therefore remain high and containment efforts will have an economic cost.

UBS forecasts overall growth close to zero in the first quarter, before resuming later this year. But central banks and G7 governments are mobilized to counter the negative effects of the coronavirus.

Increase risk in portfolios

Faced with the lack of visibility on the evolution of the virus, Mark Haefele recommends a broad diversification of the portfolios, by setting long-term objectives and using hedging strategies. The magnitude of the decline and the responsiveness of the public authorities, however, encourage UBS to increase the risk exposure of customers, particularly in the US high yield credit.

The yield spread between high yield and treasury bill has risen since mid January from 340 to 500 basis points, implying a default rate close to 6%. UBS predicts rather this year a default rate close to 3.5% with the assumption of a coronavirus contained in the first half.

The hunt for yield should continue, while rates will remain low for a long time. The sharp rise in the Vix index, reflecting the volatility of the S&P 500, encourages the sale of put options to reduce its cost price on equities.

Another strategy put forward is to buy quality yield securities (high profitability, low debt, recurring profits), while the gap between equity and bond yields has widened further since January.

In the United States, companies serve an average return of 1.8% for a 10-year Treasury bill under 1%. The gap is even greater in Switzerland, where companies post a dividend yield of 2.9% for a ten-year rate of -0.9%.

UBS also encourages debt strategies to optimize the low cost of borrowing. The Swiss bank also recommends option strategies to take advantage of the expected rebound in US stocks.

 Emerging stock markets and Europe to favor

UBS also recommends “overweighting” equities in emerging countries. These markets have started to do better than the stock markets in developed countries, while China has appeared to contain the virus on its territory. The pace of GDP growth should widen this year, to the benefit of emerging economies.

Valuations are lower in emerging countries and profit growth expected this year is higher (+ 12% in Asia excluding Japan and + 15% in Latin America against + 6% in the United States and -1% in Europe). Emerging stock markets should also benefit from the fall in interest rates and the weakening of the dollar.

The greenback is expected to fall in the coming months due to the aggressive cut in the Fed's key rate. Investors should therefore favor more export-oriented areas like Europe, which will benefit more from the stimulus measures.

Gold has its place in portfolios after having demonstrated its qualities of hedging against the risks linked to the coronavirus. The fall in real rates (excluding inflation) in the United States is additional support.

UBS prefers inflation-linked bonds rather than high-quality fixed-rate bonds, which have benefited from the liquidity refuge but which should be penalized by the rise in inflation expectations (expected this year at 1.8% in the USA).