Last Wednesday (March 25, 2015), it was announced that Kraft Foods Group and H.J Heinz would merge in a deal backed by Warren Buffett and 3G Capital. The deal is expected to be valued above $45 billion and it is expected to become final on June 30. 3G Capital, a Brazilian investment and management group combined with Berkshire Hathaway in 2013 to buy Heinz for $28 billion.
The merger will create the world’s fifth-biggest food and beverage company. The new company will be called “The Kraft Heinz Co.”. The new company will have revenues of approximately of $28 billion. It will have over 45,000 employees. Kraft shareholders are very happy because they will receive a special cash dividend of $16.50 per share and stock representing 49% of the new company. Existing Heinz shareholders will own 51%. Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital will invest $10 billion to fund the special dividend. The new company’s enterprise value is around $110 billion.
As Warren Buffett always buys businesses that he understands, he clearly understand the food industry. Plus, the food industry is a “need” for all of us, in order to survive. Following the announcement of the deal, Buffett mentioned in a CNBC that that he plans to own Kraft and Heinz “forever”. Berkshire Hathaway is going to be the largest shareholder of the new company. Berkshire Hathaway will own over 320 million shares of the new company. Kraft’s (KRFT) outstanding shares will increase after the deal.
Consumer packaged goods are very competitive world. Customers, including me are price sensitive. Kraft has $18 billion in annual sales and Heinz has $11 billion in annual sales. The merger will give the new company the advantage over the competitors. Kraft’s majority of sales are in the United States. Heinz’s majority of sales are outside the United States. The deal will help increase Kraft’s sales by using Heinz’s international resources. Kraft will be able to open new markets aboard for Kraft, increasing Kraft’s revenue.
On CNBC, Buffett said that Berkshire would stay invested in Kraft Heinz “forever” and that he views their food brands as enduring. Berkshire will own about 320 million shares of the combined company’s 1.2 billion shares. Their per-share value will be determined by the stock market when they are issued.
Remember that deal has to be approved by Kraft shareholders and federal regulators, before it becomes final. I strongly believe Kraft shareholders will approve this deal because Kraft (KRFT) shares rose after the announcement. I’m not sure about federal regulators. Federal regulators might look this at a “monopoly” and not approve the deal because it reduces the competition.
Investors loved the deal. Kraft’s shares (KRFT) rose about 36% on a heavy volume. It’s currently around $89. I would not buy the stock at this time because it’s little bit expensive and the deal is not final yet.
Last Wednesday (March 18, 2015), the Federal Reserve released its statement on the monetary policy and its economic projections. The The Fed dropped from its guidance “patient” in reference to its approach to raising the federal funds rate. It was largely to be expected to be removed, which would have send U.S Dollar higher and U.S market lower. However, the opposite happened because of two twists; they lowered their economic projections, and Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Janet Yellen’s words during the press conference.
According to the “dot plot”, the Fed lowered median “dot” for 2015 to 0.625% from 1.125% (December). What is “dot plot”? The Dot Plot is part of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC)’s economics projections and it shows what each member thinks the federal funds rate should be in the future. It is released quarterly. Sometimes, it might be released more than that, depending on economic circumstances. It gives you a perspective of what each member of FOMC thinks about economic and monetary conditions in the future.
Again, the Fed lowered median “dot” for the end of 2015 to 0.625% from 1.125% in December (-0.50%). The Fed also lowered the “dot” for end of 2016 and 2017. For the end of 2016, it is at 1.875% from 2.5% in December (-0.625%). For the end of 2017, it is at 3.125% from 3.625% in December (-0.50%). Besides, the “dot”, Yellen said one thing that took a toll on the U.S Dollar.
Even though the Fed removed “patient” from the statement, Yellen had “patient” tone during the press conference. Yellen said ““Just because we removed the word “patient” from the statement does not mean we are going to be impatient,”. This sentence alone halted US Dollar from rebounding after it dropped on the statement. There are other things that complicates the timing of the rate-hike.
It’s now more complicated to predict the Fed’s next move because of three reasons; very strong US Dollar, low inflation, and economic crisis in Europe and Japan, if not United Kingdom too. US Dollar is too strong, hurting U.S exports. Inflation has declined due to falling energy prices. The struggling foreign countries economically can also hurt U.S economy. I believe two majors factor of the Fed’s next move are the strong US Dollar, and the low inflation. When both of them are combined together, it makes imports cheaper and keeps inflation lower. I believe Europe will start to get better–as Quantitative Easing (QE) fully kicks in–money starts flowing in Europe. European stocks will probably hit new highs in the coming years because of QE program. Once, the Fed raises the rates, the money will probably flow into Europe from the U.S because of negative interest rates. Low rates have been a key driver of the bull markets in the U.S stock market the past six years. Lower rates makes stocks more attractive to the investors.
Since, the “dot” has dropped harshly, I believe this could be a sign of late delivery of rate hike. They might hike the interest rate in September, not June. However, if non-farm payrolls number continue to be strong, average wage (indicator for inflation) lifts and oil prices rebound, then the door for rate-hike for June might still be open. For now, there is no sign of oil rebounding since it has dropped sharply this week. We will get the next non-farm payroll, which also includes average wage, on April 3.
In the statement, FOMC stated “The Committee anticipates that it will be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate when it has seen further improvement in the labor market and is reasonably confident that inflation will move back to its 2 percent objective over the medium term. This change in the forward guidance does not indicate that the Committee has decided on the timing of the initial increase in the target range.”
The Fed want to be cautions before raising the interest rates. They want more time to be sure; “further improvement in the labor market” and “reasonably confident that inflation will move back to its 2 percent…” Although, non-farm payrolls have been strong lately, inflation is too low. The inflation is low because of the stronger dollar and the plunge in oil prices.
The Fed is in no hurry to increase the interest rate. The Fed said it would definitely not act on rates at “…April FOMC meeting.” and might wait until later in the year. I believe September has higher chance than June, from the rate-hike.
It looks to me that the Fed planned to send US Dollar lower. They probably wanted the US Dollar to be weaker before raising the rates, which could send the US Dollar a lot higher. Their plan worked. The US Dollar dropped so much that it sent EUR/USD (Euro against US Dollar) up 400 pips (above 1.10). U.S market rose after they were down ever since the release of non-farm payrolls for February. Dow gained over 200 points, as well as other indices.
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Update on MSFT: I’m still watching MSFT (Microsoft stock ticker) for good entry. I will go long on it in the future at a good entry price. Microsoft stock and other blue chip stock fell after Intel slashed revenue outlook due to weak PC demand. The decrease in the price of MSFT is still a good buying opportunity.
Last Wednesday, Reserve Bank of New Zealand left the Official Cash Rate unchanged at 3.5%. NZD (Kiwi) quickly reacted by rising as it disappointed traders who were looking for rate cut. In a statement by the Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler, cited that the New Zealand dollar “…remains unjustifiably high and unsustainable in terms of New Zealand’s long-term economic fundamentals.” I still believe that RBNZ will intervene and send NZD down, if not by rate-cut. I would be short on NZD/USD, at this time.
Upcoming: Bank of Japan (BoJ, Late Monday/early Tuesday – March 16/March 17 EST), Federal Reserve (Wednesday – March 18 – 2 P.M EST) and Swiss National Bank (SNB, Thursday – March 19 – 4:30 A.M EST).
BoJ will either hold or increase the stimulus package. If they do, JPY (Yen) will be bearish–sending USD/JPY further up–after rising to over 121.00 this week. If they don’t, we have to watch for their tone. It will be either bearish or bulling on the Yen, depending on what BoJ say, or react.
Federal Reserve will be watched very closely after a very positive non-farm payrolls last week. This week, U.S stocks were a roller coaster. There was a hard sell-off in equities and a bullish USD (U.S Dollar), due to an increasing chance of rate-hike. On Thursday (March 12, 2015), Retail Sales came out very negative. Retail Sales fell 0.6% (-0.6%), worse than expected of 0.3%, following -0.8%. Core Retail Sales (excluding automobiles which accounts for 20% of Retail Sales) fell 0.1% (-0.1%), worse than expected of 0.6%, following -1.1%. However, it was little better than previous report in February. I believe people who are saving money from low oil-prices are probably paying off their debts, before they spend on “wants”. The U.S market reacted positively because some people thought that negative Retail Sales would hold-off the Federal Reserve from raising the interest rates. On Wednesday, the Fed might also drop “patient”, signaling that rate-hike is very close.
SNB might set a new floor to the exchange rate (EUR/CHF). I would not trade CHF (Swiss Franc) because of two reasons. One, it’s too violent and there is no clear direction yet. Second, SNB does not know what it’s doing after what they did in January. But, I would still watch out closely, as it might affect other pairs, such as EUR and USD.
This week was full of financial news. I will be talking about some of them, which I consider too important to pass up. I will also give my views on them.
Last Monday (March 2, 2015), a report showed that Consumer Price Index (CPI) Flash Estimate ticked up to -0.3% year-over-year from previous -0.6%. Markets were expecting -0.4. The data was little positive. However, It remained in negative territory for the third consecutive month. There are deflation in euro zone. The deflation might soon end later in the mid-year, as Quantitative Easing (QE) program starts this Monday (March 9, 2015).
Last Thursday (March 5, 2015), European Central Bank (ECB) kept the interest rates unchanged. During the press conference, the President of ECB, Draghi stated that the QE would start on March 9. ECB raised its projections for the euro area, “which foresee annual real GDP increasing by 1.5% in 2015, 1.9% in 2016 and 2.1% in 2017.” Remember that these are just projections and can change anytime. Plus, central banks are not right all the time. Mr. Draghi felt confident as he talked about the future of Euro zone. He believes Euro zone will greatly benefit from QE program and some areas already have since the announcement of QE last January.
This week, EUR/USD fell all the way to 1.0838, lowest level since September 2003, due to positive U.S jobs reports, Greece worries and QE program starting next week. I was already short on EUR/USD and I still believe it has a room to go further down.
Last Monday (March 2, 2015), Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) announced that they will leave the interest rate unchanged at 2.25%. In February meeting, RBA cut by 0.25%. This time, they did not. RBA is in “wait and see” mode, for now. I believe another rate cut is coming in the two meetings, depending on future economic reports. In the Monetary Policy Decision statement by RBA Governor, Glenn Stevens stated that the Australian dollar “remains above most estimates of its fundamental value…A lower exchange rate is likely to be needed to achieve balanced growth in the economy…Further easing of policy may be appropriate…”. I believe RBA is open to further cuts and it will come in the next two meetings. However, positive economic reports might change that direction. As economics reports come out from Australia, we will have better sense of what RBA might do.
Last Monday (March 2, 2015), Building Approvals report came out and it was very positive. It was expected at -1.8%. It came out at whooping 7.9% up 10.7% from previous -2.8%. It shows that more buildings are being built. Thus, creating jobs. However, Building Approvals reports show that building approvals tend to jump around every month. If the report continues to be positive, it might convince RBA to keep the rate unchanged.
Last Tuesday (March 3, 2015), Gross Domestic Product (GDP) came at 0.5%, up only 0.1% from previous report (0.4%). It came out little bit weak from what was expected, 0.7%. It’s still very weak and it might have larger impact on RBA’s future actions. I believe RBA will cut because GDP is not improving much.
Last Wednesday (March 4, 2015), Retail Sales and Trade Balance reports came out from Australia. Retail sales came out at 0.4% as expected from previous 0.2%. Trade balance on goods and services were a deficit of $980 million, an increase of $480 million from December 2014 ($500 million). All these numbers are in seasonally adjusted term. I believe the gap in Trade Balance from the last two reports might convince RBA little bit to cut the rate again.
I would be short on AUD. I believe it has the potential to go further down to 0.7500. The best pair would be to short AUD/USD (Positive U.S news and upcoming rate hike).
Last Thursday, Bank of England (BoE) kept the interest rate unchanged at 0.50% and Quantitative Easing (QE) programme at £375bn. In March 2009, the BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) unanimously voted to cut the interest rate to 0.50% from 1.00% (-.50%). The interest rate still stays unchanged and QE stays steady, for now. If future economic reports such as wages, and inflation declines or comes out negative, rate cut might come. If it does not, rate hike might come sooner than expected. I believe it will get better and MPC will decide to raise the rate, sending Pound (GBP) higher.
This week, Pound (GBP) fell after rising last week, due to little negative news from UK and that BoE rejected higher rate for some time being because of concerns in oil prices and inflation. I would not trade GBP at this time. If I’m going to trade GBP, I would analyze its chart first. Did you notice that last week GBP/USD had-daily bearish engulfing pattern and this week there is-weekly bearish engulfing pattern?
Last Tuesday (March 3, 2015), Canadian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) came out little positive at 0.3% from previous -0.2% on monthly basis. It was expected at 0.2%. On quarterly basis, it came out at 0.6% following 0.8% in third quarter.
Last Wednesday (March 4, 2015), Bank of Canada (BoC) left the interest rate unchanged at 0.75% following 0.25% cut last month. Ever since BoC cut the rate last month due to falling oil prices; oil prices has risen and been in $50 range. If oil price continue to fall, I believe they will cut the rate again. There is strong relationship between Canada and oil. As oil gets weaker, Loonie (CAD) gets weaker. Why? Canada is ranked 3rd globally in proved oil reserves. When making a trade decision on CAD, I would look at the oil prices. Of course, I would also look at news and technical. For example, if I want to trade USD/CAD, I would look at both U.S and Canada economic news (rate hike/cut, employment, etc) and technical on chart. If U.S economic news are strong, Canada economic news are weak and USD/CAD is just above strong support line, I would definitely go long on it. However, let’s say if USD/CAD is just below strong resistance line, I would wait for confirmation of a breakout and if the news are in my favor, I would go long.
Last Friday (March 6, 2015), Building Permits and Trade Balance reports were strongly negative. Building Permits came out at -12.9%, following 6.1% the previous month, expected of -4.2%. Trade balance on goods and services were a deficit of -2.5 billion, following -1.2 billion the previous month, expected of -0.9 billion. Both reports were negative, which sent CAD lower. At the same time, U.S non-farm payrolls came out strong, which sent USD higher. As a result, USD/CAD skyrocketed. The reports will definitely be on BoC committee’s mind. As of right now, I would be short on USD/CAD.
This week, USD/CAD was mixed as BoC kept the interest rate unchanged, after cutting it last month (negative for USD/CAD) and strong U.S jobs report (positive for USD/CAD). I would be short on it as I said in the last paragraph.
Last Friday (March 6, 2015), U.S jobs report came out very strong except the wages. Employment increased by 295,000 (Expected: 240k) and unemployment rate went down 0.2% to 5.5% (Expected: 5.6%). However, average hourly earning fell 0.1%, following 0.5% the previous month (Expected: 0.2%). But, that hourly wages part of the report did not stop U.S Dollar from rising. It was very positive for the U.S dollar because there is little higher chance of rate hike coming in the mid-year.
Since U.S economic news tends to have impact on global markets, here’s what happened; U.S Dollar rose, U.S stock fell, European stock rose, Euro dived, Gold prices fell and Treasury Yield jumped. EUR/USD fell to 1.0838, lowest level since September 2003. USD/JPY rose to 121.28, a two-month high.
So why did U.S stocks sold off? It sold off because of upcoming rate hike, which can be negative for equities, specifically for dividend stocks. As economy is getting better, it should help boost corporate profits. At the same time, strong dollar can hurt them. Rate hike can only make dollar even stronger.
In two weeks, the Fed will be meeting and I believe they might drop the “patient” in its March policy statement.
I would be long USD. The best pairs would be to short EUR/USD (Euro zone delfation, Greece crisis and QE program) and short NZD/USD (RBNZ keeps saying that NZD is too high and they will meeting next week, rate cut?) as I’m already short NZD/USD, and long USD/JPY (Upcoming U.S rate hike and extra stimulus BoJ might announce).
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