The February 2015 Eurekahedge Report contains qualitative and quantitative analyses on the industry's assets flows and performance over the past month, with a special feature on key trends in Islamic funds.
Hedge funds were off to a strong start in 2015, with the Eurekahedge Hedge Fund Index gaining 1.29%, outperforming underlying markets as the MSCI World Index fell 0.41% over concerns about a lack of global demand and Greece’s debt problems. This atmosphere of uncertainty and central bank activity contributed to heightened market volatility, which picked up in the first trading month of the year. US equities witnessed their largest loss since January 2014, underperforming global markets significantly as concerns over the strong US dollar and declining growth overseas weighed in on regional markets despite the strong economic picture in the US.
Hedge funds started 2015 on a good note, gaining 1.29% and outperforming underlying markets as the MSCI World Index slipped 0.41%. Global equity markets displayed mixed performance in January as the economic picture remained weak with fears mounting about a lack of global demand and high sovereign debt burdens. Volatility also rose as central bank actions dominated the markets during the month, with the CBOE VIX Index rising from 19.2 to 20.97 amid this atmosphere of uncertainty.
Islamic finance plays a key role in the global economy, covering the financial needs of the currently underserved Muslim population. With Muslims forming a quarter of the world’s population, this is potentially a very large market, yet less than 1% of financial assets are Shariah-compliant. Indeed, there appears to be a clear supply imbalance and the Islamic fund industry has been growing steadily over the years to accommodate this demand. While it does not seem likely to have reached a peak, the industry is projected to grow significantly larger driven by a younger generation of Muslims who are more open towards investing in financial assets, and also by wider increases in productivity and prosperity.
Shareholder activism has increased significantly over the past several years, and many companies who once believed they were too small to attract the attention of activist shareholders more and more frequently find themselves in the middle of a proxy contest or responding to shareholder proposals, among other things.
Though relatively underdeveloped compared to some other Western jurisdictions, namely the UK and the
US, Islamic finance is making small but steady strides in the Canadian market. Rehan Huda discusses the
correlation between the growth in size and affluence of the Canadian Muslim community and growth in the level of observance, leading to more vocal demand for Islamic fi nancial products and services.
Week two of the new year marked a significant step in the development of the European Private Placement Market. The Loan Market Association (LMA) launched template documents for use in European private placement transactions. The development of standardised documentation will improve the visibility and perception of the product and might provide the European private placement market with the potential to grow, in time, into a notable competitor to the US market.