Most market participants are wary of taking any positions until the outcome of the budget negotiations Stateside is clearer. Hence, it is probably best take a more medium- to longer-term view of events when making investment decisions in the equity space, less one lose his nerve. The good news is that there does seem to be several potentially interesting investment options out there for investors.
That would seem to be the gist of my conversation with Ronnie Chopra, Head of Strategy at Tradenext, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing last Friday, October 4th.
On the subject of the debt-ceiling impasse in the United States, he declared himself "cautiously optmistic" that an agreement on raising the debt ceiling will be reached. Nevertheless, he admits that while morally desirable the costs associated with Obamacare probably do not make much sense.
Interestingly, given the above and the fact that the economic data has not been that great recently, he believes that the Federal Reserve will not begin to taper its quantitative easing this year. In his own words, the "world is still not ready for tapering."
Furthermore, he agrees with the premise that economic growth in the US is indeed zero-bound and the recovery shallow.
With the above in mind I queried Mr.Chopra as to his opinion on what, at the moment, appear to be some fund managers´ more favoured stocks.
"Will China stabilise?," Chopra asks
Linked to the macroenomic outlook, he believes Rio Tinto is a very well diversified miner if investors decide to invest some of their hard-won savings in the mining sector.
However, and as is often the case with miners, he was quick to point out that it remained to be seen if China would "stabilise".
He recommended that markets should "take [Chinese data] with a pinch of salt", as the economic statistics sometimes contradict each other too much.
Impressive management performance at Aviva
His opinion on Aviva - a current market darling - is altogether different. Confronted with the question of whether to "take profits" or stay in the stock for the long-run, his answer was unequivocal: "stay in for the long-run."
To back his opinion he highlighted: a major restructuring; the underperformance of its share price; impressive management team; and the fact that it may still be a take-over target for a larger Chinese outfit, for example.
BP grossly undervalued, end of litigation in US could be a catalyst
Another stock which Chopra sees with favourable eyes is British oil major BP.
Firstly, he pointed out the fact that it is quite undervalued and has significantly underperformed peers, as can be gleaned from its relatively low price-to-earnings multiple.
Yet the company has assets that might be very tempting for any predator with deep enough pockets, he added.
In fact, he believes there could be quite a few interested parties once the outfit´s court case in the US is finished.
Lastly, he admitted he was a bit puzzled as to why so many UK outfits have been dropping their US operations of late (Vodafone, Tesco, possible sale by RBS of its Citizens´ arm). Yet he does believe that the current strength in sterling may be a factor deterring foreign buyers of British companies.