Bond yields are crashing in major markets all around the world as fears of a global economic slowdown have prompted investors to seek shelter in low-risk government debt. Both Germany and Japan's 10-year bond yields are back below zero, marking the first time we've seen German yields turn negative since October 2016. As I shared with you last week, the pool of negative-yielding bonds around the globe now stands at a post-2017 high of $9.32 trillion. Yields in Australia and New Zealand have also fallen to record lows, according to Bloomberg.
Stocks erased their weekly gains and bond yields fell on Friday as investors reacted to a number of economic developments. Chief among them were a Treasury yield curve inversion, the first since before the financial crisis, and continued slowdown in the pace of U.S. manufacturing expansion.
China A-shares are still light years away from their June 12, 2015 peak. But as long as the locals are buying in on Xi Jinping outwitting President Trump, and Wall Street bets on more stimulus, Shanghai and Shenzhen indexes will remain in beast mode. Forget weaker growth. Investors are long China. It surpassed Brazil as the darling of global investors roughly four weeks ago.
Last week I was pleased to attend the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference in Toronto. PDAC is one of the largest mining conferences in the world. More than 25,000 people turned out this year, many of them selling equipment services, exhibiting securities and investments, making presentations and much more.
When the price of oil was over $100 a barrel, I was often derided for suggesting that level was a) elevated and b) unsustainable. (I was also derided in 2006 for suggesting in Forbes the price might go as low as $20 by 2008, which it almost did, but not because of market fundamentals as I thought but rather due to the financial crisis. Mea very culpa. But when the price soared in 2008 and I wrote columns titled "Investing for the Oil Price Collapse," the response was beyond derisive, so tongue-stuck-out-emoji.)
Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer the stuff of science fiction. The technology is already disrupting multiple industries, many of which impact you on a daily basis. Own an iPhone X? Its facial recognition system is powered by AI. Ever been redirected by Google Maps because of an accident or construction ahead? You guessed it: AI.
After some boring times in Summer and Fall, it has been a wild and crazy ride for natural gas prices this Winter 2018-2019. We have seen the most volatile U.S. gas market since 2009. Prices hit highs not seen since 2014 and lows not seen since 2016. Since November, prompt month gas prices have been in the very wide range of $2.55 to $4.85 per MMBtu. It was a cold and early start to winter in November, augmented by the fear of storage levels nearly 20% below the five-year average, that got the party started.
It was indeed remarkable that the U.S. natural gas market saw the lowest prices since July last week despite Polar Vortex 2019. In particular, given that gas demand peaks in the Winter when heating and power generation needs collide, the U.S. hit an all-time record of 150 Bcf/d of consumption.
Last year was admittedly a tough one for emerging markets. A number of currencies were under considerable pressure, with some of them falling to record or near-record lows against the strong U.S. dollar. Global trade tensions, threats of sanctions, rising U.S. interest rates and higher oil prices--before they began to crater in October, that is--also contributed to the selloff. From its 52-week high set in January 2018, the MSCI Emerging Markets Index sunk into bear market territory by the end of October.