An emerging credit crunch in the world’s second-biggest economy has become one of the more prominent event risks over the past year. For now, the Chinese authorities appear to be stemming investor concerns.
Even news from Federal Reserve-watcher Jon Hilsenrath, that the Federal Open Market Committee is likely to continue to shave its asset-purchase programme by an additional $10 billion per month, does not seem to have fazed the bulls.
The injection of Chinese liquidity has also reinvigorated some of the subdued sentiment felt around today’s corporate earnings releases.Despite the slide in peripheral bond yields and better economic data for the eurozone as a whole, the main theme of corporate reporting recently appears to be a lack of growth and consumer demand. The strong euro has also been blamed to some extent for less-than-stellar profits.
SAB Miller has slid to the bottom of the UK index. Despite higher third-quarter sales generated by growth in emerging markets, weak consumer disposable income in the likes of Europe and the US has seen beer sales lose their fizz in developed markets. Net producer revenue fell by 6% in Europe alone. The stock has hit all-time highs and seen gains of 35% year-to-date, so the decline of 1.94% should not unduly worry investors.
Unilever surprised the markets with better-than-expected growth of 3% in the year, and like-for-like sales were up 4.1% against expectations of 3.85%. Once again, however, the spectre of currency depreciation in emerging markets has taken its toll. The stock underperformed the FTSE 100 last year, and is still down some 12% since last May, yet it is now riding the top of the UK benchmark, with shares gaining 2.93%.
German consumer sentiment, in light of the five-and-a-half-year highs in the DAX, was not expected to disappoint. Forecasts were that the index would jump to an eight-year high. The degree of upside sentiment in equities at the moment is, when broken down to basic fundamentals, a little exuberant. The sentiment index, falling from 62 in December to 61.7, perhaps reflects this.
The Dow Jones is currently set to open 42 points higher at 16,500.