2016 was chock-full of surprises, both in markets and in politics.
As Goldman’s Allison Nathan explains, the year began with a perfect storm of worries that had become all too familiar already in 2015. Oil prices plunged and fears of faltering growth and a sharp depreciation of China’s currency escalated, driving disruptive sell-offs in credit and other risk assets. Confidence in global growth faltered, particularly after an anemic US GDP report for Q1.
But oh, how the world has changed. Today, the price of crude oil is almost exactly double its January low in the wake of announced production cuts by OPEC and key non-OPEC producers (Russia). We expect WTI oil prices to move higher to a peak of $57.50/bbl in 1H17 as the cuts push the oil market into deficit and whittle down the current large inventory surplus. But we also expect shale producers to respond to the higher prices, implying limited upside from there.
The rebound in oil prices led to a remarkable turnaround in credit markets, with HY Metals & Mining and E&Ps returning 49% and 36%, respectively, YTD; default rates normalizing; and spreads no longer pricing recession risk. We expect a further moderate compression of spreads in 2017 given expectations of a generally positive macro environment, gradual improvement in credit fundamentals, and, of course, our somewhat rosier oil outlook. And fears about China have generally receded into the background as Chinese policymakers continued an ambitious stimulus program that helped stabilize growth. A more dovish tilt by the Fed in response to the tightening of financial conditions caused by the Q1 sell-off also assuaged market fears. But we warn that China risk is not far from the surface.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 25, 2016.