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What I think I learned last week #25

The biggest investment news of the week: French asset manager La Financière de l’Echiquier has renamed its global equity fund Echiquier Global, run by David Ross, as Echiquier World Equity Growth. The rebranding aims to give the fund’s name a more international dimension. The (most excellent) investment strategy remains unchanged.


Apparently, the China Securities Regulatory Commission and other regulators sent informal directives to some major stockholders encouraging them to purchase more shares in the mainland-listed firms they invest in. Reports also say the regulators called on some mutual funds, telling them to avoid being net sellers of equities. In addition, brokerages were also asked to provide trading summaries from last week to the regulator, and trading plans and previews for this week as China attempted to stabilize markets ahead of the Spring Festival holiday.


Bespoke Investment Group states that the proportion of companies beating their estimates was the greatest in more than a decade, and revenue beats on the top-line have been even stronger. Bespoke says it is tracking to be the best revenue-beating quarter since the third quarter of 2004.


Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund, has bet $22 billion against European stocks.


US inflation hot, retail sales not. US Consumer Price Inflation came in hotter than expected with a core rate of +0.3% and retail sales dropped 0.3%. So how did stocks react to signs of future interest rate hikes and a slowing economy? By rallying, of course.


The S&P 500 had its best five-day rally since 2011.


The US is poised to become the world’s largest oil producer in 2019, the International Energy Agency said, with stellar output from shale fields offsetting robust demand growth and supply cuts by other producers.US crude output, which is up 1.3m barrels a day compared to last year, will soon pass Saudi Arabia and could overtake Russia by the end of the year to become “the global leader”, the IEA said on Tuesday.


Is there anything that could de-rail the US energy producing machine? Yes, a shortage of rail cars in Canada. This shortage is hurting Canadian farmers and oil companies, and now it is impacting US shale oil production as Halliburton warned that earnings would be hit due to delays in getting supplies of sand from Canada. Sand is used in great quantity in the hydraulic fracturing process in shale oil production.


Venezuela’s oil output in January fell to its lowest level in nearly 30 years, excluding a brief oil strike in 2003, according to S&P Global Platts.


With its eighth straight quarter of growth, Japan’s economy has recorded its longest continuous growth streak for 28 years, going back to 1989.


French unemployment fell to its lowest level since 2009, dropping to 8.9%.


South Africa’s currency reached its highest level against the dollar in three years and the stock market jumped 3% as investors cheered Cyril Ramaphosa becoming the country’s new President.


Following a trend seen by many packaged food companies, Nestlé, the world’s biggest food company, saw its shares fall almost 3% on Thursday after it said that its sales in 2017 grew at their slowest pace in at least 20 years. Kraft Heinz also disappointed in its quarterly performance.


Crypto Crazy (1): Salon Media Group, an online publication, offered its readers a choice: disable your ad-blockers to allow it to display advertisements, or instead lend your computer’s processing power so it can mine cryptocurrencies.


Crypto Crazy (2): Hedge funds focused on trading cryptocurrencies more than doubled in the four months to February 15, hitting a record high of 226, according to new data from fintech research house Autonomous NEXT.


Crypto Crazy (3): Atari, last heard from in the 1980s as the creator of Pac-Man and Space Invaders, has seen its stock price jump 60% on news that it is creating its own cryptocurrency, the Atari Token, as part of a blockchain-based entertainment platform it is building.


Finally, it appears we may be reaching peak cup holder in the US. The Suburu Ascent SUV has 19 cup holders, beating out the Volkswagen Atlas SUV which only has 17. Even Lamborghini is in on the act. Its new Urus SUV is the first Lamborghini to have multiple cup holders.


And that is what I think I learned last week…..