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Tue, Dec 07, 2004 - Page 12 News List

Investors showing revived optimism, BIS reports

AFP , BASEL, SWITZERLAND

Optimism has returned to financial markets thanks to improved economic conditions, lower investor risk aversion, and the stabilization of the oil price, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) said on Sunday.

In its quarterly review, the BIS, which acts as a central banker to central banks and holds a portion of 140 central banks' international reserves, said "doubts among investors about the strength of the global economy receded" in recent months, paving the way for firmer financial markets.

"Investors regained their appetite for risk as news pointing to a firming of growth accumulated, most notably in the United States," it said.

That helped equities markets rally to the highest levels in years last month while volatility slumped as concerns about the oil supply lifted. Even some disappointing results by big companies did not dent the overall sentiment in stock markets.

Investors' greater appetite for risk spurred interest in emerging market debt, which helped drive the so-called interest rate spread between bonds from such countries and US government bonds to lows not seen for years.

On the currency market, the BIS blamed the dollar's swoon in recent months on concerns about the US current account deficit.

Against a backdrop of improved macroeconomic conditions and lower investor risk aversion, the international bond market saw brisk activity.

New net issue of short-term and long-term debt securities stood at US$325 billion in the third quarter compared with US$352 billion the previous quarter.

"This small decline reflects reduced activity by borrowers in the euro area, Japan and the emerging economies, which was not fully offset by increased borrowing by entities located in the United States and offshore centers," the BIS said.

Trading in derivatives, which has boomed in recent years, fell in the third quarter from the previous quarter with the combined value in interest rate, stock index and currency contracts declining five percent to US$288 trillion. Currency contracts was the only category to grow.

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