Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Market volume hits low amid fund outflows and doubts on central bank effectiveness

Markets were mixed on Monday.

Early in the day, the Nikkei 225 jumped 1.7 percent and the Shanghai Composite Index surged 1.8 percent.

However, the STOXX Europe 600 rose just 0.7 percent while the S&P 500 slipped 0.1 percent.

The yield on the US 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.963 percent from 1.977 percent on Friday while US crude oil fell 3.4 percent.

US stock-trading volumes hit their lowest level of the year on Monday. The weak volume comes in a period where corporate share buybacks have been the main source of demand for stocks as mutual and exchange-traded funds have been hit with outflows at almost the fastest rate ever.

The pullback from the stock market could be part of a turn in the credit cycle.

"There has been a significant and, in our view, structural contraction in supply for all borrowers aside from U.S. high grade entities," wrote UBS strategist Matthew Mish.

Mish added in particular that lending conditions may have become "dangerously easy at non-banks".

A turn in the credit cycle would suggest that central bank easing is in the offing, which could encourage some investors to return to the stock market.

However, some analysts doubt that central banks can continue to prop up markets.

"Central banks hold a declining number of less effective policy tools," wrote Andrew Sheets, head of cross-asset strategy at Morgan Stanley. "Their latest foray, negative rates, may do more harm than good."

JP Morgan Chase chief market strategist Jan Loeys wrote: "Part of our equity bearishness is that we share investor concerns about the lack of 'ammo' in central bank arsenals that will be needed to battle adverse shocks."

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