Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Afghanistan,Syria and Iran:Intelligence Perpsectives

Afghanistan is a very mixed bag,said Lieutenant General James R. Clapper,Jr.,US Air Force retired,Director of National Intelligence.The upcoming election there is gonna be a very good indicator of where these loyalties lie,General Clapper told the Senate Armed Forces Committee April 18.It's very much a tribal country,somewhat artificial in terms of what we think of as a country.
Iran does worry about a significant restiveness in the street that would threaten the regime.Perhaps this will play out in the forthcoming Iranian election if they put forth a candidate not favoured by the Supreme Leader,Ayatollah Khamenei.
I believe there are lots of weapons in Syria.I am not convinced that supplying more weapons to the opposition will have an impact on cost/benefit.Even a partial no-fly zone is not a trivial undertaking.They have a significant anti-air capability,depending on who is operating it.
Syria has had a huge impact on the neighbouring countries,the spillover of the fighting into Jordan and Lebanon.Iran will continue to support President Bashar Al-Assad.His fall would be a huge strategic loss to Iran.They are training people in Iran and taking them back to Syria.
The jihadis in the opposition,most notably al Nusra,have recently pledged their allegiance to al Qaeda.They are present in 13 of 14 provinces,where they provide humanitarian aid and Islamic courts.
Syria is a very complex situation.The magnet it has turned into for foreign fighters,including 400 Europeans-it is black and white and several shades of grey in between.
General Clapper,72,is a Vietnam veteran and served in the US Air Force from 1963-95.He was Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence from 2007-10,and was appointed Director of National Intelligence,the US intelligence chief,in 2011.Before the 9-11 attacks,this role belonged to the CIA director.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Prologis Industrial REIT Sees Good Signs

Prologis is the world's largest industrial real estate investment trust.CEO Hamid Moghadam cites FedEx,UPS,Amazon and Wal-Mart as being among the warehouse firm's largest customers.We think economic growth and the lack of construction is gonna give us pricing power,Mr.Moghadam said.Ecommerce is probably the biggest renter and housing the least,and those in the middle are also growing.
Housing affects our smaller buildings.Under 100,000 square feet,we have about 10% vacancy.That's finally happening this year.
Overseas,we're seeing really good demand on domestic consumption.Japan is doing well because it's changing from an export to a domestic import economy.Spain,Italy and the UK are going strong.France is the weakest.President Hollande's policies have frightened people,and there's a lot of flight capital.
If occupancies drop to the 90s or below as in 2009,I get worried.We're a conservative bunch and we'd like to see it higher,Mr.Moghadam admitted.
UBS is to increase its Asia corporate advisory head count by 10% on the region's growth forecast.
Germany's industrial output was up in February on economic recovery.
Alcoa's earnings topped estimates on growing demand for aircraft.
Prologis(PLD),UBS AG(UBS),Alcoa Inc(AA)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Western Australia Drawing Increased Interest

Exxon Mobil and BHP Billiton plan to develop a vast natural gas field about 300 kilometers off the coast of Western Australia using a huge gas processing vessel for liquefied natural gas production.The floating plant would produce 6.7 million metric tonnes of LNG a year beginning in 2020-21,the companies said in a filing with Australia's environment department.
The Scarborough field is located in the Carnarvon Basin.The vessel proposed to operate there would employ Floating LNG technology,or FLNG.It is used when gas fields are too small or remote to make onshore facilities practicable.
In a related development,the US State Department has opened a commercial office in its Perth consulate.The office will match an expected surge of US companies looking to invest in Western Australia with local firms which can meet their needs as resource extraction activities ramp up in response to demand from emerging Asia.
Canadian real estate investment trust Brookfield Office Properties lists Perth as a high growth market,ahead of Boston and Vancouver.The REIT owns Brookfield Place in Perth and has a 50% interest in two other office buildings on St Georges Terrace.
Exxon Mobil(XOM),BHP Billiton Ltd(BHP),Brookfield Office Properties(BPO)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Voices and Trends in Wealth Management

We favour US equities to the emerging markets,said Kelvin Tay,Regional CIO for the Southern Asia Pacific at UBS Wealth Management.We like high yield corporate debt.We don't see a huge amount of risk.We're still positive on it at this stage,with an overweight on it.
Cyprus was a reminder that structural issues in Europe are far from over.We need to see that US growth is sustainable to the 3% GDP target that we have.We also need to see that China growth is achievable.
With strong US figures,the emerging markets will struggle for attention.Export numbers in Asia are sharply lower on sequestration in the US.
South Korean exports were worse than expected on the strong US dollar.Goldman Sachs says investors are buying Treasuries at fastest clip since 2009.
Global stocks have posted the best return of any investments for another quarter,but Stephen Wood,PhD of Russell Investments thinks it is unlikely that Q2 results will repeat the first quarter.There's a tug of war.This has been a very broad-based rally,but it also has a defensive character,too.Dr.Wood recommends a globally diversified,multi-asset portfolio constructed in a case-by-case,security-by-security way.
Carter Worth,Chief Market Technician at Oppenheimer,believes several stocks are fully priced,such as Johnson and Johnson and The Traveler's Companies.When does a stock become dangerous?We have a four-year bull market that has taken us to all-time highs.Markets don't normally go up 40-80%.Only four times has that happened.Go to cash,Mr.Worth advised.
Johnson and Johnson(JNJ),The Traveler's Companies,Inc(TRV)