Markets Research

Overview

Our investment strategists absorb our teams’ political and economic views and forecasts. Then, using a market lens, they provide our clients with advice on asset allocation, investment positioning and portfolio risk management.

At TS Lombard, we are in the advantageous position of having a wealth of global economic and political analysis at our disposal. Through the judicious interpretation of this knowledge, and rigorous market analysis, we provide clients with high-conviction advice on the best course of action to take in order to capitalise on opportunities and avoid risks.

We provide actionable asset allocation advice (3-6 month horizon) expressed in absolute terms and relative tems in model portfolios. We also provide tactical trade ideas (6-8 week horizon).

Our Markets Research Methodology

Timing is key, and our focus is to determine the optimal moment to increase or reduce exposure to a specific asset class or make a tactical trade. We take pride in presenting our clients with resolute ideas based on their specific needs, giving them an opportunity to make adjustments to their portfolios with greater confidence. In many cases, we act as a ‘sounding board’ or a ‘second opinion’ to help you see how interdependencies and interconnections will have an impact on your decision-making.

 

Our proprietary strategy models can help you identify where the value is in the market with a greater degree of certainty. And our agnostic approach to asset classes allows us to give you the best value recommendations – whether that’s cross-asset, multi-asset or within asset classes.

Using detailed economic and political risk analysis as the building blocks of our forecasting, our team of expert strategists assess market positioning and technical signals and then formulate asset and investment recommendations based on the most likely outcomes.

Services

Asset Allocation

Combines global macroeconomic views and market strategy to give investment recommendations within and across the main asset classes – with a 3 to 6 month investment time horizon. Views expressed as both absolute calls and relative allocations in our model portfolio. Contains proprietary ValuQEST equity model.  (Monthly)

Macro Strategy

Global tactical trade ideas to play key macro themes or exploit relative value opportunities – with a 6 – 9 week investment horizon. (Weekly on Wednesday)

Strategy Chartbook

Highlights important market drivers and summarises our key investment conclusions across all the major asset classes. (Monthly)

EM Strategy Monthly

Flagship overview essay of EMs, relative asset allocation views for each asset class; our high-conviction total return views, heat map presentations of our FX and fixed income market views, as well as an accessible one-page summary for each of the 10 EM countries we cover. (First week of each month)

Quant Strategies

We have developed 10 quantitative signals that provide reliable short-term market calls for investors. Each strategy uses and places heavy weighting on data sets and other technical inputs selected by our macro economic team. These have been overlaid with other quant data and market timing data. The out of sample performance over 5 years has consistently generated alpha. The strategies rebalance once per week or month as appropriate. 

They are:

  • US Equity Sectors
  • Europe Equity Sectors
  • DM Country Selection
  • EM Equity Sectors
  • Government Bond Futures
  • VIX Arbitrage
  • VIX Directional
  • Commodity Selection
  • FX Selection
  • Dynamic Futures Asset Allocation

Research Partners

At TS Lombard Research Partners we partner with experienced market-facing analysts to bring our clients a wider range of independent research services in a highly innovative way.

The changes to the industry’s research business model prompted by the adoption of the MiFID II directive have meant that many well-established analysts are questioning the future direction of their careers.  At the same time, investment managers are just as hungry for sources of alpha generation, and are starting to look at non-traditional sources of insight.

We have therefore created a distribution and compliance platform for experienced, independently-minded analysts.  TS Lombard was ranked in the top three independent research firms globally in our field in the most recent Extel Survey.

Asia Property

Our Asia Property service analyses developments in the sector, with an emphasis on the largest most liquid stocks and provides actionable single stock recommendations and calls on the value of specific REITS and property companies.

Coverage is by Andrew Lawrence from our Hong Kong office.  Andrew joined us as a Research Partner in 2017 and combines 21 years’ experience in Asian real estate at banks such as Kleinwort Benson, Deutsche Bank and Barclays with direct investment experience, investing across the capital structure of both public and private real estate companies for hedge funds, as well as consulting experience in the real estate business.

All research from our partners will offer the same high standards that underpin our macroeconomic and strategy work.  Research partners interact with our in house team to exchange ideas. Through this macro analysis and micro sector expertise come together.  

We launched our Research Partners service in 2016/17 to provide expert sector coverage and investment advice.  Andrew Lawrence covers Asian Property - a sector that links directly to our existing expertise in the macroeconomic and policy arenas.  Andy is a well-established analyst with extensive experience in his ector and strong relationships with investment managers globally.

As other high-quality, experienced analysts leave major sell-side institutions, we will expand the sectors under coverage and will be actively engaged with clients about meeting their needs for high-quality, insightful research.

 

His research has been top rated in industry surveys and consistently valued by many international investment institutions. Prior to moving to Asia 21 years ago, Andrew was head of property strategy for a major UK PLC and spent seven years in real estate advisory. He founded Oculus Research Asia in 2015 as an independent research service committed to providing original and insightful research focused on the Asian real estate sector.

We believe his partnership with us will generate fresh investment ideas and create outperformance.

Markets Research

Markets
01 Aug 2019

EM Strategy Monthly: Trade war to fade as EM driver: All hail monetary easing!

  • Risk: We maintain our positive call on overall risk owing to the dovish tilt of central banks in both DMs and EMs.
  • Turkey: We raise our calls on Turkish assets to short-term positive as the ongoing recession will bring down inflation and rates faster than expected.
  • Russia: We remain positive on Russian assets; despite slowing growth, the easing monetary cycle now under way should buoy valuations.
  • Brazil: Given the prospect of the passage of pension reform, we expect markets to be upbeat, despite ongoing economic stagnation.
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Markets
31 Jul 2019

Macro Strategy: Too many cuts spoil the broth

  • A 25bp Fed rate cut is likely today with at least one more to come, but this is an “insurance” cycle not the end of the growth story
  • Easing to steepen the yield curve. This means the Fed’s balance sheet policy will probably come into play as well
  • We buy a FFF0-FFF1 steepener, as we reckon expectations of 35bp of cuts next year are excessive
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Markets
30 Jul 2019

Strategy Chartbook: August 2019

  • Macro Drivers. Strong Q2 for the US domestic consumer, but not for the rest of the world or inflation
  • Multi Asset. US assets are outperforming both DMs and EMs as the Fed prepares to ease
  • Fixed Income. Debt ceiling suspension risks tighter money market liquidity
  • Currencies. GBP discounting bimodal Brexit, SNB remains active
  • Equities. US stocks have benefited from globalisation in recent years: is this about to change?
  • Commodities. Treasury yields under downward pressure from lower commodity prices

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Markets
12 Jul 2019

Asset Allocation: The first cut is the deepest... or is it?

  • A single 25bp US rate cut won’t be enough to boost growth, capex and inflation
  • But whether the Fed cuts 50bp in July or in two steps is not too important
  • What matters is that the trade war truce slims the downside-risk tail…
  • …while synchronised central bank easing fattens the upside-risk tail
  • We add exposure to equities, HY and EM bonds; cut govvies, IG and cash
  • Yields are too low but likely ECB QE, shortage of HQLA cap their upside
  • We stay positive on EUR as reserve diversification continues
  • In currencies we upgrade CNY, TWD and TRY, downgrade GBP and CAD
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Track Record

Markets
07 Nov 2018

2019: Buy US 2s 10s steepener

We said:

Usually the yield curve steepens at the end of a tightening cycle once the policy rate is cut sharply. But we do not think this is the end of the cycle, and we do not expect policy rate cuts in the foreseeable future. Rather, this will be a different type of curve steepening as QT and the Treasury combine to push up long-term rates entirely independent of growth expectations, while inflation expectations likely remain anchored. We express this view through a 2s10s steepener: we buy the 2s10s spread at 25bp and look for a move to 60bp, with a stop at 0bp (we will know we are wrong if the curve inverts).

Outcome:

The curve steepened and we closed the position on 13 March for a total return of 48bps.

Markets
17 Oct 2018

2018: Buy BRL/MXN on Bolsonaro bounce

We said:

BRL has been beaten down by political risk. We expect a Bolsonaro relief rally to support Brazilian but the FX market continues to hedge against a big fall in the real. The 25 delta risk-reversal/at the money ratio is two standard deviations above its long-term average, a sign that investors remain long USD/BRL. Instead, we reckon there is time and space for the ratio to fall and the currency to rally. 

In the LSR View “The bull case for Bolsonaro”, we lay out the three main pillars of a bullish outlook: the outsourcing of economic policy to his economic advisers; the formation of a supportive coalition to enable passage of legislation; and the appointment of experienced political operators to push reforms through Congress. It is still early days – the second round vote still needs to be won – but optimism over the outlook for Brazil should spur a rally for the next few months.

Seasonally, BRL tends to weaken in November, particularly against USD. While we reckon there is room for USD/BRL to fall, we prefer to buy BRL/MXN at 5.06 with a stop at 4.93 and target of 5.30. BRL/MXN is less subject to weak BRL seasonality in November.

Outcome:

Trade gained almost 4% in one week as BRL rocketed. Ahead of the second round election we chose to be prudent and cashed-out at 5.25 for a profit of 3.6%. 

Markets
01 Aug 2018

2018: Liquidity getting tighter, short EM stocks vs. DM stocks

We said:

USD liquidity pressures have eased over the last few months. Financial conditions have stopped tightening, providing some respite for stocks. But somebody forgot to tell EMs: countries with low resilience scores (i.e. large current account deficits and low FX reserves) continue to see outflows. But now liquidity pressures are set to rise again, and financial conditions are at risk of tightening.

EM assets remain vulnerable. In recent weeks, the threat of trade wars has hogged the headlines. But liquidity strains are likely to come to the fore again. Externally vulnerable EM countries (see our recent Global Financial Trends and Daily Note on EM FX reserves) are likely to suffer further losses due to both liquidity and trade risks. We retain our strongly negative stance on EM risk in EM Strategy Monthly, as trade frictions remain intense and Chinese growth is still slowing. This week we add a relative value short MSCI EM / long MSCI DM position to the model portfolio.
 

Outcome:

By 10 October 2018 the trade had made 8% as markets woke up to the reality and effects of trade war and tighter liquidity conditions. We  believed the theme had further to run but introduced a stop-loss to lock in 4% profit. Trade closed off on 21 November 2018 for a profit of 4%. 

Markets
29 May 2019

2019: TIPS Tipping Point

We said:

Real yields are more likely to fall than rise from here. Even if the trade confrontation were to be resolved tomorrow, we would still project US growth to decline in mid-year and end 2019 below consensus expectations. The longer the trade row drags on, the greater the downside risk to our view.

Sharp fall in breakevens masking the recent stability of real yields. As we noted above, the large drop in nominal yields this quarter has been paced by inflation rather than growth. Real yields are currently at the bottom of their recent range; any further fall in yields could tip them into a new, lower range.

We buy TIPS via the TIP US ETF (which tracks the performance of the whole TIPS market; note there is no “s” in the ticker) at 114.20 and set an initial stop 2% away, just below 112.

Outcome:

Growth and inflation expectations faded. We closed the trade on 24 July for a total return of 29bps. 

Markets
22 May 2019

2019: Long XHE ETF vs IHE ETF

We said:

Trade war makes it hard to make directional calls. Consequently, we think it makes sense to focus less on making directional macro calls (most of which will be affected by trade developments that are hard to predict) and concentrate more on idiosyncratic stories.

Following years of outperformance, Healthcare Equipment’s returns fell into line with those of Pharmaceuticals about a year ago. Current levels are reasonably attractive, being roughly in the middle of the range of the past 12 months. Given the length of the market’s consolidation, plus the renewed push in Congress to lower healthcare costs, we think now is a good time to gain exposure to a sector that has stronger long-term prospects than Pharma. We therefore buy the XHE ETF against the IHE ETF. 

Outcome:

Healthcare Equipment has outperformed and the trade has generated 9% return to mid-August 2019. We raised the stop-loss on 19 June to lock in 4% profit. On 24 July we raised the stop-loss again to lock in 5% profit. 

Markets
23 Jan 2019

2019: Fed pause will turn into easing then rate cuts: we buy October fed funds

Consensus said:

The futures market was still expecting Fed rates to rise in 2019 from 2.4% on the date of inception to 2.44% at year-end. The rates market was pricing a less than 5% chance of a rate cut in 2019 and a 20% chance of a hike in by June. 

We said:

FOMC policy tightening has been stable and predictable for the last two years, but now that the Fed has moved to a ‘wait-and-see’ mode, and has bought optionality around the pace of balance sheet reduction, uncertainty over the next step is high. We reckon Powell’s FOMC is more pragmatic than previous committees, and will be more willing to act against the risk of curve inversion. In our view, the US economy needs a rate cut given signs of a slowdown. And slowing the pace of QT makes it more likely.

Market expectations of Fed policy have stabilised after the wobble around the new year, when at one point the market was discounting over 10bp of rate cuts for 2019. And although the slightly upward-sloping curve includes a non-zero probability of rate cuts, according to Bloomberg, market expectations of a cut this year are less than 5%. The market discounts a 20% chance of a rate hike by June. We reckon the balance of risks is the other way around: either the Fed cuts rates this year or does nothing.

We expect that once the pace of QT is slowed, the market will move to discount a greater chance of rate cuts in future meetings. If the pace is slowed at the March meeting, this puts a timescale on discounting cuts starting in Q2. We expect the rate cut to come after it becomes evident that data has not improved – thanks to the government shutdown, this means the cut will most likely take place in Q3.  

We buy the October fed funds future at 97.53 with a stop below 97.40: the current price reflects a market expectation that the fed funds rate will be 2.47% on average in October (it is currently 2.4%). We reckon October is the optimal entry point given our expected timing of the rate cut and the shape of the fed funds curve: the December price is a little higher than the October price. We reckon there is a better chance of it averaging 2.15%, equivalent to a futures level of 97.85.

Outcome:

We took profit of 27bp on 27 March as the contract hit our target of 97.80. By that time markets had completed a 180 degree U- turn in 3 months and were pricing an 80% chance of a Fed cut in 2019, and 60% by end of Q3. 

Our Team

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Andrea Cicione

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Ollie Brennan

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Jon Harrison

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Andrew Lawrence

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Nikol Hearn

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Stephen O'Sullivan

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Martin Shenfield

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ECONOMICS

Through our analysis of the forces that drive economics at the global, regional and country level, we have a joined-up picture of the world economy and a deeper understanding of the countries that investors care about. This gives us a unique perspective that allows us to present courageous, fresh, long-term thinking and forecasting with high conviction.

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POLITICS

With political drivers and government policy playing an increasingly significant role in determining economic and market outcomes, our world-wide team of political analysts are able to provide critical, timely insights into political shocks and policy developments that will influence investment performance – both regionally and globally.

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