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BIAS sees hopeful signs on the investment front

Global economic indicators are stabilising or improving, according to Bermuda Investment Advisory Services Ltd (BIAS) chief investment officer Robert Pires.

Speaking at the BIAS First Quarter 2012 Quarterly Market Briefing at the Hamilton Princess last week, Mr Pires said the global economy was growing in aggregate terms, and also when decomposed into emerging and developed nations’ components.

Global gross domestic production (GDP) is expected to reach $69.9 trillion in 2013 as compared to 2011 GDP of $65.4 trillion. Mr Pires went on to show that although global economic growth would continue, it was expected to grow at a moderating rate of approximately three percent as compared to the 2011 global GDP growth rate of 3.8 percent.

JP Morgan’s Global Composite Purchasing Managers Index is also turning up suggesting economic expansion.Mr Pires also highlighted a quantitative study conducted by Credit Suisse First Boston measuring Global Risk Appetite (GRA).

The hypothesis of this study is that when investors become too optimistic (euphoric), one should reduce one’s own equity weighting and correspondingly buy when other investors were too pessimistic.

Currently the GRA in this study is turning up from a five-year low in the “panic” zone, signalling a likely recovery in global stock markets.

BIAS also monitors the Fed Model which compares the yield on S&P500 stocks against ten-year US Treasury bond yields. It suggests equities still look cheap against bonds, Mr Pires said.

Dan Rivera, senior investment strategist for BIAS, outlined the relationship between economic cycles and stock market performance. He explained that the BIAS view was that equities, which lead economic recoveries, were at the beginning of the middle phase of a bull recovery.

As such, BIAS favours sectors such as technology, industrials, materials, and telecom. Telecom provided an additional benefit of paying strong dividend yields, he added.

BIAS remains underweight Financials, Staples, and Healthcare; however, strategy is to lower these underweightings in both Financials and Staples.

BIAS introduced a new theme at the Quarterly Market Briefing, specifically “The Death of Cash”. Pires noted that governments have started imposing limits on cash transactions. He posits that the reason for this is to increase tax revenues. Hence, Greece where evading taxes is a national pastime, has passed legislation making cash transactions of more than €1,500 illegal. Italy has implemented a similar law where cash transactions over €1,000 are prohibited. Mexico limits transactions to less than $7,700.

Stocks have been purchased that benefit from restrictions on cash and already over a short period the BIAS portfolios have benefitted from substantial gains. So far for 2012, markets are showing positive returns with the BIAS Global Equities Fund up 4.5 percent in January whilst the Global Balanced was up 3.78 percent and the low risk Short Duration Income Fund was up 0.48 percent.

BIAS CIO Robert Pires

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Published February 21, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated February 21, 2012 at 8:17 am)

BIAS sees hopeful signs on the investment front

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