South Africa’s Colour Divide Affecting Mining

South Africa’s latest mining overhaul could be mired in a long legal battle after producers vowed to stop the changes even as the government said it’s time the black majority benefits from the country’s mineral wealth.

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane unveiled new rules for so-called black economic empowerment, including tougher ownership requirements, a community-development tax equal to 1 percent of revenue, and expanded quotas for buying goods and services from black-owned companies.

The Chamber of Mines, which represents South Africa’s biggest producers, plans to start fighting the plan in court as soon as next week.

“This charter’s not going to see the light of day anytime soon,” Peter Leon, the Africa co-chair at law firm Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, said by phone on Thursday. “We’re looking at years of protracted litigation.”

 

Producers are fuming after having been kept in the dark on the details of the updated Mining Charter and the chamber refused to attend a last-minute meeting with Zwane’s department earlier Thursday, saying it wouldn’t be coopted into lending support.

The new rules, which don’t give credit for deals already concluded and from which black shareholders have since divested, will deter investment and serve as a “nail in the coffin” for the industry, said Steve Phiri, the chief executive officer of platinum producer Royal Bafokeng Platinum Ltd.

Court Battle

“We’re confident of our prospects in court,” he told reporters in Johannesburg. “I would not rule out the possibility of this matter being decided by the highest court in the land.”

Miners would still prefer to reach a negotiated solution but are prepared to fight the changes if needed, Chamber of Mines President Mxolisi Mgojo told reporters.

Under the new rules, companies must ensure that their South African assets are 30 percent black-owned within 12 months, up from a previous level of 26 percent. If upheld, several of the country’s biggest mining companies would have to sell new stakes, raising the risk of dilution for existing investors.

“The value destruction is hard to quantify and the uncertainty will persist,” Liberum Capital Ltd. analysts including Ben Davis said in a note. “What is certain is that South Africa continues to be a terrible destination for mining investment and assets in South Africa will continue to trade at a discount.”

South Africa holds the biggest reserves of platinum, chrome and manganese and mining companies operating in the country include Anglo American Plc, Glencore Plc and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd.

White Male

The push for increased black ownership of the industry is part of an effort to address the legacy of apartheid and, with its highly paid, mainly white, male executives overseeing hundreds of thousands of workers laboring in some of the world’s deepest and most dangerous operations, the mining industry is starkly symbolic of the country’s persisting inequalities. Yet critics say many deals have mainly benefited the politically connected elite and deter foreign investors.

Mining companies may also be getting caught in the cross hairs of local politics and posturing ahead of the ruling African National Congress’s leadership conference in December, said Theo Venter, a political analyst at North West University’s business school in Potchefstroom, west of Johannesburg.

The party will seek an urgent meeting with Zwane on the charter and is concerned about potential job losses as a result of the new charter, it said on Thursday.

“Given the fact that the mining industry has shed about 60,000 jobs in the last five years, we don’t want legislation that will add to that bloodbath,” ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said by phone.

The ANC conference will pit rival factions, including one led by President Jacob Zuma, against each other.

“This is part of an effort by the Zuma faction to provide hard evidence that they are trying to put radical economic transformation into practice,” Venter said. “They are saying: ‘We are not only talking, we are doing something.’”

Cheerio

The Pinstripe and Bowler Club shares information with MF Solutions Ltd

Global Round Up

Here are some of the key events coming up:

  • More Fed officials will be speaking as the FOMC’s June 13-14 meeting approaches. Robert Kaplan will be in New York on Wednesday.
  • The U.S. jobs report Friday may bolster the case for a rate hike, with a gain of 180,000 positions expected.
  • Brazil’s central-bank decision Wednesday will probably see a cut of 75 to 100 basis points from the current 11.25 percent, according to economists.
  • The EIA is due to release its monthly supply reports Wednesday.

Here are the main movers in markets:

Stocks

  • The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped less than 0.1 percent, paring its advance for May to 2.6 percent. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 0.1 percent, trimming a monthly gain to 0.8 percent.
  • The Shanghai Composite rose 0.2 percent, after nearly wiping out an earlier gain of 1.1 percent. The manufacturing purchasing managers index remained at 51.2 for a second straight month in May, compared with a median estimate of 51 in a Bloomberg survey of economists.
  • Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was flat, heading for a fifth straight monthly gain, the longest winning streak since 2013, as improving earnings outweighed concerns about China’s campaign to cut leverage.
  • Japan’s Topix fell 0.3 percent, following two days of gains.
  • Futures on the S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent. The benchmark index slipped 0.1 percent Tuesday, retreating for the first time in eight days. The Nasdaq 100 Index advanced for an eighth day to an all-time high.

Currencies

  • The pound dropped 0.3 percent to $1.2817. The euro was little changed, heading for a monthly gain of 2.7 percent, its best performance in more than a year.
  • The yen weakened 0.1 percent to 110.93 per dollar after rising 0.4 percent Tuesday. The South African rand strengthened 0.4 percent, after tumbling for two days.
  • The onshore yuan climbed 0.4 percent, poised for its highest closing level since November.
  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed for a third straight day. The gauge is down 1.3 percent for the month.

Commodities

  • Iron-ore futures in Dalian fell 5.4 percent to 429.5 yuan a ton, the lowest since Nov. 7.
  • Gold was little changed at $1,262.69 an ounce, extending a 0.4 percent loss Tuesday.
  • Oil dropped 0.6 percent to $49.35 a barrel after retreating 0.3 percent in the previous session. OPEC and Russia’s deal last week to extend output limits through March was met with a selloff as it didn’t include deeper cuts, a plan for the rest of 2018 or a new ally.

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries rose two basis point to 2.23 percent, after declining four basis points in the previous session.
  • Benchmark yields in the U.K. rose one basis point, after a drop of two basis points Tuesday.
  • Australia 10-year yields fell less than one basis point to 2.39 percent.

Cheerio

The Pinstripe and Bowler Club shares information with MF Solutions Ltd

Trump Bomb Boosts Gold

Gold’s getting a boost from the turmoil in Donald Trump’s West Wing. The haven rose for a fifth day as the president’s latest controversy prompted references to the 1970s Watergate scandal that helped to sink predecessor Richard Nixon, hurting the dollar as investors cut back on risk.

The president “perhaps is facing his toughest time in the office,” said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst in London at Think Markets U.K. Ltd. Investors are questioning whether there is “any possibility of impeachment becoming a reality, because certainly that would hit the confidence massively.”

Bullion for immediate delivery climbed as much as 0.6 percent to $1,245.07 an ounce, the highest since May 3, and was at $1,243.78 at 9:41 a.m. in London, according to Bloomberg generic pricing, as the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index sank to the lowest since November. The precious metal’s winning run is the longest such stretch in a month, and takes gains this year to 8.4 percent.

Gold has risen after Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey a week ago, and following reports he shared intelligence with Russia. In the latest twist Trump is said to have asked Comey in February to drop an investigation into a former national security adviser, raising questions that he may have obstructed justice. The problems are seen as drawing the administration’s focus away from policies to aid growth, and have spurred recollections of former President Nixon, who was ensnared in Watergate and resigned.

“It’s a political dogfight,” Ole Hansen, head of commodities strategy at Saxo Bank A/S in Copenhagen, said by phone. “That does mean that his ability to act as a president, and to do what he’s promised, is sharply reduced and in that lies the risk of dollar weakness.”

Democrats say reports Trump asked Comey to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn amount to obstruction of justice, if true. “I hope you can let this go,” Trump told the FBI director, according to a Comey memo, as cited by the New York Times. The White House has denied that version of events.

‘Ability to Deliver’

On Trump’s position and the Comey fallout, “it’s much too early to say,” Hansen said, when asked whether the current situation is reminiscent of the Watergate era. “I don’t think the sum of that adds up to something that could potentially lead to the removal. But what it does do, is really just is bucking down the White House and the ability to deliver on promises.”

The concerns surrounding the White House may slow economic policy decisions, according to Westpac Banking Corp., which recommends investors short the dollar. “Regardless of the ultimate conclusion of the political storm over Trump’s actions on Russia and the security services, it will at the very least linger as a distraction that makes it more difficult for the White House to pass pro-growth policies,” said Sean Callow, a senior currency strategist.

“The rise in gold is largely a dollar play, with the dollar weakening because of Trump,” said Barnabas Gan, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp., who also flagged overseas tensions. “There’s still more downside risk to gold in the long run, but in the short-term, given what the North Koreans are doing and what Trump is doing, the dollar is inherently weak.”

Bullion has advanced in 2017 — posting a run of four monthly gains through April — even as the Federal Reserve tightens monetary policy, with a rate rise in March and more increases likely to follow. Higher rates tend to curb the appeal of non-interest-bearing assets like gold.

While this year is a “pretty hazy year for bullion, the path of least resistance is on the bearish side,” said Singapore-based Gan, highlighting the Fed’s tightening cycle. “If we divorce away all the uncertainty, the rate-hike story should at least bring gold prices to $1,100.”

Cheerio.

The Pinstripe and Bowler Club shares information with MF Solutions Ltd.

FOREX Friday

Friday May 12th will see the release of a set of crucial US data for April at 13:30 BST; retail sales, retail sales excluding autos, CPI and core CPI. Please be aware that it will likely affect USD and USD crosses along with commodities.

The dollar index has rebounded over the past four trading sessions after hitting a low 6-month low of 98.40. Gold prices saw a rebound on Thursday, and has now touched a three-day high of $1228.98 on Friday during early European session.

US retail sales (MoM) saw a downtrend over the past three months mainly caused by the decline in auto and petroleum sales. The consensus for the April figure is an optimistic forecast of 0.6%. However, sales in April for the two automobile tycoons, Ford and GM, saw a further falling of 7.1% and 5.8% respectively. The declines will likely weigh on the upcoming data. US retail sales outlook seems to be a bit gloomy before auto sales see a recovery.

Retail sales excluding autos also saw a downtrend over the past three months with the reading for March falling into zero growth, not seen since August 2016.

US CPI (YoY) has seen a healthy upswing since August 2015; staying above the Fed’s 2% target since December 2016. Core CPI has been oscillating steadily in the range between 2.1% – 2.3% since January 2016.

The Bank of England (BoE) announced that; interest rates remain unchanged at 0.25% and the asset purchase programme also remains unchanged at £435 billion which are both in line with market expectations. The BoE sees inflation to be above their 2% target for the next three years due to weak GBP. Consumption will continue to experience a slowdown; however, this will be balanced by rising trade and investment. Wage growth is expected to be quicker in 2018.

The BoE forecasts interest rates are likely to remain at the current level until late 2019. However, monetary policy may need to be tightened more than the markets expect over the next three years. The BoE also predicts the Brexit process to be smooth.

The BoE holds a positive outlook on inflation and wage growth and overly optimistic about the Brexit negotiation process. The EU is unlikely to make the process easy for the UK, to avoid encouraging other member states leaving following Brexit.

GBP/USD fell from 1.2940 after the UK data was released, holding above the significant support line at 1.2900. This support level was breached following the BoE announcement with GBP/USD hitting a 1-week low of 1.2848.

Cheerio

The Pinstripe and Bowler Club shares information with MF Solutions Ltd.

Gold Rising

Gold has traded in a range since the end of March, but Todd Gordon sees a rise in market volatility coming that could send the yellow metal higher.

The trader commented Thursday that recent comments by the Federal Reserve could spell more uncertainty in the market. Potential rate hikes aside, Fed minutes released on Wednesday from the March meeting stated its intent to start shrinking its $4.5 trillion balance sheet later this year.

“We’re seeing some volatility in the markets,” said Gordon. “I actually want to look at the gold market, which could be moving up here” off the uncertainty that could result from the Fed.

To determine just how high gold could climb, Gordon looked at a long-term chart of GLD, the ETF that tracks gold, dating back multiple years. According to Gordon, a “triple-test trendline” can be drawn on GLD starting from its peak back in 2012, with the line finishing just above current levels in GLD at the $123 to $125 mark. This leads Gordon to believe that should GLD bounce, it can hit the trendline again at around those levels.

“There are a couple sources of volatility and concern in the markets,” explained Gordon. “I think that’s going to be enough to punch the market through resistance to test that long-term downtrend from 2012.”

Cheerio.

The Pinstripe and Bowler Club shares information with MF Solutions Ltd.

Call Options Whatever You Want

Traders are buying so many S&P 500 call options right now that the ratio of those contracts to put options hit an all-time high Wednesday, according to Credit Suisse.

A call option is the right to acquire a stock in the future at a preset price. A put option is the right to sell.

“The biggest trend, the most notable thing, is the resumption of the call buying in the S&P,” said Mandy Xu, derivatives strategist at Credit Suisse. With “Trump coming out with a new tax plan, we’ve seen that upside demand in the market.”

Xu calls this ratio the “call skew” and here’s the chart the bank sent clients Wednesday showing the metric at a record level.

The jump in the ratio of call-to-put buyers came ahead of the Trump administration’s afternoon announcement on a highly anticipated tax proposal.

Call skew began climbing after the November U.S. presidential election, and the last time call skew hit a record was Feb. 14, Xu said. The S&P 500 climbed about 3 percent in the following days before setting its most recent closing record on March 1.

Stocks and call skew levels then dropped as Republicans pulled their health-care bill, creating worries about whether market-friendly tax reform would be passed. Growing concerns about geopolitical tensions from North Korea to anti-EU sentiment in France also pressured stocks.

So far this week, the S&P 500 has rallied nearly 2 percent after the first round of a French presidential election on Sunday that showed centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron remaining the favorite against far-right populist candidate Marine Le Pen.

That said, stocks don’t have an all-clear signal. Congress has yet to vote on tax reform, while overseas surprises could rock markets again.

Xu also thinks the bullish bet from call options buyers is probably near its limit around these record levels.

“It’s pretty extreme as it is. In order for it to go higher we probably need something more concrete or substantial to extend that,” she said.

But that’s obviously not the whole Options story. S&P 500 is but one vehicle amongst a myriad of many such as commodities and metals with both Gold and Silver looking attractive right now. Oil – well, nah.

Cheerio.

The Pinstripe and Bowler Club shares information with MF Solutions Ltd.

Global Economy Slow Down

Global growth is expected to slow down significantly in the coming months as borrowing levels dominate in both China and Europe and “Trump-mania” is set to fade, a chief economist at Danish investment firm Saxo Bank said on on Monday.

“Our main global macro outlook still maintains that recession is more likely than not in the near future (12 to 18 months) based on the global credit impulse having peaked simultaneously with global inflation,” Steen Jakobsen, chief economist at Saxo Bank, said.

In a recent note, Jakobsen explained that the biggest “perception-versus-reality gap” in the market currently remains this risk of recession. He added that his company is not predicting a recession, but that its economic model does indicate a significant slowdown as “the large credit impulse from China and Europe in the early part of 2016 has not reversed to negative”, which it says should make the market conservative, risk averse push investors into U.S. fixed income.

“While the market at large sees less than a 10 percent chance of recession, we at Saxo – together with our friends at South Africa’s Nedbank – see more than a 60 percent chance,” he added in the note.

Europe is seen as the main region driving global growth, according to Jakobsen, beating the U.S. in the second and third quarters of this year. Jakobsen is not alone in this thesis, with a number of investment houses recently upgrading their outlooks on European stocks as fears recede on the rise of populism and polls indicate that centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron is likely to do well at the upcoming French elections.

Mike Bell, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, stated Monday that European stocks “look pretty cheap” compared to U.S. stocks. “What you’re starting to see now is that underperformance of earnings that you’ve seen since the financial crisis is disappearing,” he said. There’s been a fundamental acceleration in the euro zone economy, he also noted.

But, according to Jakobsen, Europe’s momentum is not followed in other parts of the globe.

“One thing is absolutely clear: Asia is not going to contribute anything in 2017 to growth. China is on total standstill,” Jakobsen said Monday.

“They don’t know what to do with (President Donald) Trump and I think Trump again showed his hand over the weekend that he is not to be relied on in terms of a set-out path for how they conducted themselves,” he added.

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed during a summit last week to develop trade talks during the next 100 days to reduce the Chinese trade surplus with the U.S. They also agreed to increase cooperation to curb North Korea’s nuclear program.

Shortly after the meeting, Trump sent 100,000-ton USS Carl Vinson and U.S. Navy support ships to the Pacific as a show of force amid rising fears that North Korea will launch an intercontinental ballistic missile test in the coming days. Last week, Trump approved a missile strike on Syria, after an alleged chemical attack. Such a decision overshadowed the summit with his Chinese counterpart.

Furthermore, the main driver of U.S. equities seems to be hope, Jacobson added. The S&P 500 has reached historic highs since the new president took office on expectations that he will deliver massive tax cuts and infrastructure investments.

“A dominant part of the equity analysts sees a significantly higher S&P but it’s based on hope. Hope to me belongs in church on a Sunday,” Jakobsen said.

When economies slow up, people buy gold.

Cheerio.

The Pinstripe and Bowler Club shares information with MF Solutions Ltd.