So much for easing into 2016. At AMP Capital Investors, in Sydney, Nader Naeimi’s inbox is clogged with recommendations to sell equities.
Hans Goetti, at Banque Internationale a Luxembourg, in Dubai, is assessing whether China’s sinking currency will unleash capital outflows that the economy can’t sustain.
In Denmark, Saxo Bank’s Peter Garnry is dealing with non-stop phone calls from clients.
A flight from risky assets has defined the first days of the new year, with volatility surging on concern about turmoil in China and escalating tension in the Middle East.
Even as the MSCI All-Country World Index’s bull market extends to more than 1,500 days, investors are facing a difficult start to 2016, after losing money on global stocks, high-yield bonds and commodities in 2015.
“It’s like the holiday never happened,” said Mr Naeimi, a fund manager at AMP Capital.
“Everyone is chasing shadows.
"What’s adding to the nervousness is that we’ve been in this extended bull market since 2009 — we’ve had really, really strong gains. Everyone’s nervous.”
Investors returned on Monday to a 7% rout in Chinese equities and the news that Saudi Arabia had expelled Iran’s diplomats in a dispute about the execution of a Shi’ite cleric.
China’s policy-makers were in focus on Tuesday, with stocks seesawing as they added cash to the financial system, intervened to buy equities, and postponed the end of a ban on major shareholders selling stakes.
And, yesterday, the People’s Bank of China cut its yuan-fixing to the lowest since April, 2011, reigniting concern about the outlook for the world’s second-biggest economy, and North Korea conducted its first nuclear test since 2013.
“Clients have been panicking, calling us to try to make sense of it all,” said Mr Garnry, head of equity strategy at Saxo Bank.
“But how do you interpret this market? It makes little sense.
"We were obviously surprised and not prepared for such a bad start to 2016,” he said.
Stocks have shown resilience for years, bouncing back after the Ukraine crisis, Greece’s debt woes and the collapse in oil prices.
But concern over China’s economy and the repercussions for global markets have kept surfacing.
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