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IFX Gertrude
post Apr 17 2017, 02:59 AM
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Fxwirepro: South Korean Won Marginally Lower After Trade Balance Data



EUR/KRW is currently trading around 1,204 mark.

Pair made intraday high at 1,204 and low at 1,201 levels.

Intraday bias remains neutral till the time pair holds key support at 1,203 mark.

A daily close below 1,203 will drag the parity down towards key supports around 1.201, 1,194, 1,189, 1,178, 1,163 and 1,154 marks respectively.

Alternatively, a sustained close above 1,203 will take the parity higher towards key resistances around 1,207, 1,211, 1,218, 1,228, 1,233, 1,242 and 1,252marks respectively. Seoul shares open up 0.28 pct at 2140.87.

Important to note here that 20D, 30D and 55D EMA heads down and confirms the bearish trend in a daily chart. Current upside movement is short term trend correction only.

South Korea’s March export growth revised decrease to 13.6 % vs previous 13.7 %.

South Korea’s March import growth revised increase to 27.7 % vs previous 26.9 %.

South Korea’s March trade balance revised decrease to 6.27 bln $ vs previous 6.60 bln $.

We prefer to take long position in EUR/KRW around 1,203, stop loss at 1,200 and target of 1,208/1,211/1,218.

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IFX Gertrude
post Apr 17 2017, 03:32 AM
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U.S. Energy Chief Orders Study of Electric Grid to Ensure Power Supplies



U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry called for a study of the U.S. electric grid, with the focus on examining whether policies which promote wind and solar energy are further accelerating the retirement of coal and nuclear plants significant to assure stable and reliable power supplies.

The 60-day review follows as regulators try to figure out how they could balance electric reliability with a stack of state policies that are more focused on less stable renewable energy sources. U.S. President Donald Trump has moved to dismantle Obama-era policies which impeded coal-fired power plants. Regulations that Perry claims have reduced jobs and threatened to weaken the grid's performance. Perry's move implies that the administration is looking for ways to maintain coal plants online.

The study comes after the G-7 Energy Ministerial meeting in Rome where a discussion was made for the need to diversify the supply of electricity. German consumers have been bearing the expense for a green transition, as it promptly shuts nuclear plants and embraces renewable power.

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IFX Gertrude
post Apr 18 2017, 03:58 AM
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Wall Street Advanced as Dow Ends at Session Peaks



U.S. equities finished higher as the Dow Jones industrial average ended over 180 points up while bank stocks and technology shares advanced. Market focus moved from geopolitical tensions to earnings results, with Goldman Sachs, General Electric and Johnson & Johnson all set to report results later this week.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 0.9 percent to 20,636, as Boeing led gains while Exxon Mobil was the top decliner. The S&P 500 rose 0.86 percent at 2,349, with financials leading all 11 sectors up. The Nasdaq composite jumped 0.89 percent at 5,856.

The SPDR S&P Bank ETF (KBE) increased more than half a percent after two Wells Fargo executives purchased $5 million worth of Wells stocks. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF climbed over one percent, led by Rent-A-Center gaining nearly six percent. The S&P 500's technology sector finished higher for the first time in 11 sessions.

Shares of Netflix, which posted results after the bell, jumped 3.0 percent to $147.25 in the regular session but slipped 2.1 percent following the bell. Amazon gained the most on the S&P 500, higher by 2.0 percent to $901.99 after Credit Suisse improved its price target to $1,050 from $900. Credit Suisse also improved its price target on Boeing, which sent its shares 1.9 percent higher to $179.02.

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IFX Gertrude
post Apr 19 2017, 03:04 AM
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Wall Street Slips, Weighed Down by Goldman Sachs, J&J



U.S. equities retreated as the S&P 500 dropped for the fourth time in five sessions, pulled down by declines in Goldman Sachs and Johnson & Johnson after their quarterly results. Investors remained cautious due to lingering geopolitical tensions and ahead of the French presidential election.

The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 0.55 percent at 20,523.28, as Goldman Sachs led losses while Coca-Cola outperformed. The S&P 500 fell 0.29 percent at 2,342.19, with health care leading six sectors down while consumer staples being the top gainer. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.12 percent at 5,849.47.

Goldman Sachs posted lower-than-expected-first-quarter results across the board, with trading revenue falling short of analysts expectations. Johnson & Johnson also posted mixed quarterly results that sent its shares falling over three percent.

Netflix reported better-than-expected earnings, however, its guidance missed estimates. Bank of America recorded upbeat first-quarter results with nearly every single metric meeting or exceeding analysts expectations.

Healthcare dropped one percent while financials lost 0.8 percent, and were the two worst-performing of the 11 major S&P sectors. Shares of Cardinal Health tumbled 11.5 percent, which also added pressure on healthcare following a weak profit forecast that outweighed a deal to purchase a medical supplies business from Medtronic for $6.1 billion.

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IFX Gertrude
post Apr 19 2017, 04:51 AM
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Fxwirepro: Thai Baht Marginally Higher in Early Hours of Asia, Faces Strong Support at 34.24



USD/THB is currently trading around 34.30 marks.

It made intraday high at 34.35 and low at 34.30 marks.

Intraday bias remains bearish till the time pair holds key resistance at 34.45 mark.

On the top side, key resistances are seen at 34.45, 34.56, 34.67, 34.85, 34.97, 35.11, 35.20, 35.32, 35.42, 35.62, 35.74, 35.84, 35.93, 36.01, 36.08 and 36.39 marks respectively.

Alternatively, a daily close below 34.35 will drag the parity down towards key supports around 34.24 and 34.01 marks respectively.

Important to note here that 20D, 30D and 55D EMA heads down and confirms the bearish trend in a daily chart.

We prefer to take short position in USD/THB only below 34.24, stop loss at 34.44 and target of 34.01.

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IFX Gertrude
post Apr 20 2017, 01:27 AM
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New Zealand’s Consumer Price Inflation Accelerates Above Expectations in Q1 2017



New Zealand’s consumer price index rose 2.2 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of this year, showed Statistics New Zealand. This is the highest annual rise since the first quarter of September 2011. It is above market expectations of 2 percent. Statistics New Zealand senior manager Jason Attewell stated that increasing prices of petrol along with the annual increase in tax of cigarette and tobacco lifted inflation.

Prices related to housing continued to rise in the quarter, rising 3.3 percent year-on-year. Meanwhile, transport prices were up 3.5 percent, the second largest contribution to the inflation, with petrol partly countered by declines in other private transport services. Stripping out cigarettes, petrol and tobacco, the consumer price index rose 1.5 percent year-on-year in the March quarter.

On a quarter-on-quarter basis, the consumer price index was up 1 percent in the first quarter after a 0.4 percent rise in the fourth quarter of 2016. This is above the market expectations of a rise of 0.8 percent. Adjusting for seasonal effects, consumer price inflation rose 1 percent.

“Higher prices for cigarettes and tobacco, petrol, and fruit were partly offset by lower prices for international air transport, and package holidays,” added Attewell.

Prices for tobacco and cigarette upwardly contributed the most to inflation on a quarter-on-quarter basis, noted Statistics New Zealand.

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IFX Gertrude
post Apr 20 2017, 03:09 AM
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U.S. Stocks Mostly Lower as IBM, Oil Prices Weigh



Wall Street finished mostly lower, with IBM and oil prices weighing on the Dow Jones industrial average. Investors priced in the newest round of earnings and are also focused on France, with the country's presidential election drawing close.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 0.58 percent at 20,404.49, as IBM led losses while Merck outperformed. The S&P 500 slipped 0.17 percent at 2,338.17, with energy leading seven sectors down and healthcare being the top gainer. The Nasdaq composite added 0.23 percent at 5,863.03.

IBM plunged 4.9 percent to $161.69 following its larger-than-expected decline in revenue for the first time in five quarters. The energy sector tumbled 1.4 percent for its fifth slip in six sessions with oil prices settling almost four percent down.

Financials traded higher earlier in the session after Morgan Stanley reported a strong first-quarter as its fixed-income trading revenue doubled year over year. The lender's results climbed to the top of Wall Street expectations, in contrast to Goldman Sachs that surprised investors with weak earnings and revenue. Shares of Morgan Stanley climbed two percent.

Intuitive Surgical jumped 6.4 percent at $807.94 to help raise the Nasdaq after the firm posted higher-than-expected first-quarter revenue and profit. The stock is on course for its best day in almost two years.

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IFX Gertrude
post Apr 21 2017, 03:01 AM
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Creditors' Experts to Finalize Greece Accord Next Week: Official



Experts representing global lenders will return to Greece to work out the provisions of an agreement for the country next week, according to an EU official.

Greece and its creditors agreed on April 7 on major aspects of reforms to secure new financing and concurred these experts would return to the nation the soonest possible time to finalize the deal.

However, Europe's official on economics Pierre Moscovici said technical reasons caused the delay. He added they would discussion the completion of the said pact in Washington, on the sidelines of the yearly IMF gathering.

The Greek government's spokesperson had mentioned the institution may fund the nation's bailout scheme with a minimal amount for around one year, although the matter was still being discussed between the country and its lenders.

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IFX Gertrude
post Apr 21 2017, 03:16 AM
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Fxwirepro: Eur/krw Rejects Key Resistance at 1,224 Mark, Consistent Close Below 1,217 Targets 1,201 Mark



EUR/KRW is currently trading around 1,220 mark.

Pair made intraday high at 1,220 and low at 1,216 levels. Intraday bias remains neutral till the time pair holds key support at 1,217 mark.

A daily close below 1,217 will drag the parity down towards key supports around 1,208, 1,200, 1,194, 1,189, 1,178, 1,163 and 1,154 marks respectively.

Alternatively, a sustained close above 1,217 will take the parity higher towards key resistances around 1,224, 1,228, 1,233, 1,242 and 1,252marks respectively.

Seoul shares open up 0.56 pct at 2161.24.

Important to note here that 20D, 30D and 55D EMA heads down and confirms the bearish trend in a daily chart. Current upside movement is short term trend correction only.

We prefer to take short position in EUR/KRW only below 1,217, stop loss at 1,224 and target of 1,201.

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IFX Gertrude
post Apr 22 2017, 06:53 AM
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Canadian Retail Sales Likely to have dropped Sequentially in February, says Td Economics



The Canadian retail sales is likely to have eased in February, following a growth in January. According to a TD Economics research report, total retail sales are expected to have fallen 0.4 percent sequentially, whereas excluding auto it is likely to have dropped 0.5 percent month-on-month. Subdued prices for gasoline might be a considerable headwind for nominal consumer spending, whereas a wider drop in seasonally adjusted consumer prices might result in a moderate outperformance in volumes. In January, retail sales had expanded 2.2 percent sequentially, whereas ex-auto sales had risen 1.7 percent.

In spite of the 3.8 percent rise in motor vehicle sales last month, a pullback is unlikely. Meanwhile, industry reports indicate towards a moderate growth that might lead to a new monthly record. A surge in home sales might stimulate demand for furnishings and furniture. Outside these industries, a more disappointing performance is expected, but might downplay any adverse implications for the Canadian central bank amid increased worries regarding imbalances and a desire to witness a more balanced growth profile, noted TD Economics.

Moreover, the Bank of Canada is not expected to be greatly concerned with a moderate slowdown in February because of the real retail sales strength last month, which might be a mainstay for the quarter, added TD Economics.

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IFX Gertrude
post Apr 24 2017, 02:10 AM
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French Election: Euro Cheers French Election Outcome, Yen Hammered



The single currency is up almost 1.5 percent as the centrist, pro-European Union candidate Emmanuel Macron is set to win the first round of French Election, initial results show. The euro is currently trading at 1.087 against the dollar and at one point the single currency was trading at as high as 1.094 against the dollar.

According to latest numbers, Emmanuel Macron is leading with 23.7 percent of the votes, followed by Front National leader Marine le Pen, who is set to receive 21.7 percent of the votes. The other two top candidates, Republican François Fillon and the leftist leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon are set to receive 20 percent and 19.5 percent of the votes respectively. Since no candidate received 50 percent of the votes required to become the next President, the top two candidates will face each other in the second round of the election, to be held on May 7th.

A lightning Ipsos poll of second round voting intentions shows Macron beating Marine Le Pen in the second round by 24 percent margin. However, the outcome would depend a lot on undecided voters and abstention.

As the political tensions ease with a first round victory for Macron, the safe haven currency yen took a beating. The yen is trading more than a percent down at 110 per dollar. At one point, it was down to as low as 110.6 per dollar.

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IFX Gertrude
post Apr 24 2017, 04:01 AM
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Macron, Le Pen Hails Victory on First Round of French Presidential Election



Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen came out victorious during the first round of the French presidential election, sparking a runoff on May 7 between two radically distinct perspectives of the country's future.

Macron is on track to gain 23.8 percent in Sunday's election, and National Front Leader Le Pen with 21.7 percent, as stated in the predictions from the Interior Ministry based on over 90 percent of votes counted. The turnout signifies that for the first time in modern French political history, both establishment parties were eliminated in the first round.

Republican Francois Fillon conceded after placing third with a forecasted 20 percent, Communist-supported Jean-Luc Melenchon had 19.4 percent, and Socialist Benoit Hamon followed in fifth place with only 6.3 percent.

The rejection of the two main parties indicates the displeasure flowing through a society that has to deal with Islamic terrorism and years of subpar economic growth and high unemployment. The next two weeks will examine the appeal of both candidates' stand on the economy, Europe and security.

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IFX Gertrude
post Apr 25 2017, 02:10 AM
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Moody's: the Upcoming Adoption of Ifrs 17 in Korea Will Pressure Capitalization, But Promote Structural Improvements



Moody's Investors Service says that International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) 17 -- when implemented in Korea -- will challenge the reported capitalization of life insurers, by requiring them to measure their policy liabilities at current interest rate values and therefore provide higher levels of reserves.

"Nevertheless, beyond the pressure on insurers' capitalization profiles, the new standard will, over time, promote structural improvements and value creation in the industry," says Stella Ng, a Moody's Assistant Vice President and Analyst. Specifically, IFRS 17 will improve insurers' pricing discipline and product mix by better reflecting the true economic cost of embedded options and guarantees in their products.

"It will also encourage insurers to sell more longer-term protection products instead of volume-driven, short-term savings products," adds Ng. "We note that the industry has been increasing its higher-margin protection policy sales, including long-term healthcare and critical illness products, and we expect that this trend will continue even after IFRS 17 is implemented".

Moody's analysis is contained in its just-released report titled "Life Insurance - Korea: IFRS 17 Will Reduce Reported Capitalization, But Drive Structural Improvements" and is authored by Ng.

Moody's report points out that under IFRS 17, the banning of netting between policy surplus and deficits, and the use of market-consistent discount rates -- which will likely be lower than the average discount rates currently used by Korean life insurers -- to arrive at best estimate liability (BEL), will result in broadly lower reported capitalization.

Also, the impact will be more significant for insurers that have a large book of negative spread in-force business. As a result, insurers will be under pressure to strengthen their capitalization, with many likely to do so through hybrid bond issuance.

Moody's also says that IFRS 17 will provide a strong incentive for insurers to reduce their duration mismatches.

Because the new accounting standard requires closer monitoring and matching of economic assets and liabilities, Moody's expects that IFRS 17 will push the industry towards more dynamic asset-liability management and investment strategies to minimize duration mismatches and the associated interest-rate risk exposure. This situation will lower the potential sensitivity of insurers' solvency and earnings to financial market shocks.

As for small insurers, they will face greater operational challenges because the more explicit recognition and disclosure of the contractual service margin and risk margin under IFRS 17 will expose their relatively weak earnings quality, given that they rely heavily on spread income.

Smaller insurers will therefore face more difficulty in adapting to IFRS 17, and in addition they will need to devote substantial resources and incur adjustment costs to meet the more stringent measurement and disclosure standards.

Moody's explains that Korean life insurers are preparing for IFRS 17 that is scheduled to be finalized by the International Accounting Standards Board in May 2017, and which will come into effect in Korea on 1 January 2021. The Financial Services Commission and the Financial Supervisory Service in Korea have announced that they will issue guidelines to insurance companies after the finalized standards of IFRS 17 are released.

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IFX Gertrude
post Apr 25 2017, 03:10 AM
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Chow Tai Fook Gains Australian Government Approval for $3 Billion Deal



Hong Kong conglomerate Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd. has obtained the approval of the Australian government regarding its bid for gas and electricity firm Alinta Energy Ltd.

According to a spokeswoman for Treasurer Scott Morrison, the takeover was approved with strict conditions. The deal has been approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board and the treasury declined to comment further.

The buyout bid from Chow Tai Fook valued Alinta at nearly four billion Australian dollars (US$3.02 billion), a person familiar with the topic said. Both companies did not reveal financial terms on the deal.

Chow Tai Fook, which is widely-known for its jewelry business, is the biggest in the world by revenue. For the conglomerate, this deal marks its first significant investment in Australia's energy industry, granting the company control of a utility with nearly 800,000 electricity and gas customers as well as a generation portfolio of as much as 1,957 megawatts.

The Hong Kong conglomerate said it plans to maintain Alinta's current senior management team and aims to expand business through investment in the energy market. The deal is seen to close by the end of April.

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IFX Gertrude
post Apr 26 2017, 02:32 AM
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Moody's: Rising Czech Koruna Will have Uneven But Manageable Impact for the Country's Banks



The appreciation of the koruna will impact Czech banks unevenly, with UniCredit Bank Czech Republic and Slovakia (UniCredit CzSk) and Raiffeisenbank, a.s. the most vulnerable to the shift and Ceskoslovenska Obchodni Banka, a.s. (CSOB) and Ceská Sporitelna, a.s. (Ceská) likely to be least affected. The rating agency notes that overall the impact will still be manageable due to the primarily domestic focus of the banks' operations and the Czech National Bank's commitment to limiting excessive currency volatility.

The Czech National Bank removed its CZK27 upper limit on the koruna-euro exchange rate on April 6, allowing the koruna to rise for the first time in three and a half years.

Moody's report, entitled "Ceská; CSOB; Komercní; UniCredit CzSk; Raiffeisenbank; MONETA: Impact of Rising Koruna Will Be Uneven But Manageable," is available on www.moodys.com.

Moody's subscribers can access this report via the link provided at the end of this press release.

"Local currency appreciation in the Czech Republic will filter through to the country's banks via various channels, such as corporate margins, funding costs, and the value of government securities," says Arif Bekiroglu, Assistant Vice President and Analyst at Moody's. "UniCredit Bank Czech Republic and Slovakia and Raiffeisenbank are more vulnerable than their peers due to material exposures to the non-retail segment, leaner capital and weaker profitability."

MONETA Money Bank, a.s. (MONETA) has a high exposure to small businesses but strong capital, and Komercní banka has a high exposure to corporates which tends to be less vulnerable, but weaker capital. CSOB and Ceská are likely to be least affected due to their low to moderate exposure to riskier segments relative to their solid capitalisation.

MONETA and UniCredit CzSk could see rising problem loans as a result of their exposure to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). SMEs are the most vulnerable to an economic slowdown. Exports account for more than 80% of Czech GDP and a strong currency appreciation means that Czech exporters may lose competitiveness. However, ongoing economic recovery in euro-area economies should help to offset most of this impact and to create growing demand for Czech goods. The euro area is the Czech Republic's biggest trading partner, accounting for 65% of Czech exports as of year-end 2015.

Banks holding larger shares of government securities as available-for-sale (AfS) assets, such as UniCredit CzSk, Ceska and MONETA could also be negatively impacted. This is because foreign investors looking for currency gains could exit long-held positions in Czech government securities as the currency appreciates, lowering the securities' market valuation.

Funding costs will rise as benchmark interest rates increase. We expect a rise in benchmark interest rates to control inflation once the exchange rate settles and this will impact funding costs at RBCZ and MONETA more than their peers due to their tighter koruna liquidity.

Moody's notes that since many Czech banks are subsidiaries of euro-area parents and provide those parents with a substantial part of their profit, these parents — Erste Group Bank AG, KBC Bank N.V., Société Générale, UniCredit S.p.A. and Raiffeisen Bank International AG— could benefit from improved revenues and capital. This is because the euro-equivalent of their Czech subsidiaries' revenue and capital will improve and the dividend equivalent in euros will also be higher.

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IFX Gertrude
post Apr 26 2017, 03:30 AM
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Wall Street Gains as Nasdaq Rises Above 6,000



U.S. equities advanced sharply as strong quarterly reports from numerous big-cap firms followed through. The Nasdaq Composite reached a record peak, while the Dow and S&P 500 were also near recent highs as solid earnings highlighted the health of corporate America.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 1.12 percent at 20,996.12, as Caterpillar led gains while Verizon was the top decliner. The S&P 500 rose 0.61 percent at 2,388.61, as materials led nine sectors up while telecommunications and utilities lagged behind. The Nasdaq composite advanced 0.7 percent at 6,025.49.

Caterpillar jumped 7.7 percent at $104.29 after earlier notching a multi-year peak of $104.71 while Mcdonald's bounced 5.6 percent to $141.71, both after exceeding profit estimates.

According to Thomson Reuters, total profits of S&P 500 firms are estimated to have increased 11 percent during the first quarter, the most since 2011.

The Nasdaq scaled a record level of 6,036.02, breaking 6,000 for the first time, powered by advances in index heavyweights Apple and Microsoft. The S&P 500 notched its day's peak after a report that U.S. President Donald Trump's tax proposal will be expected on Wednesday.

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IFX Gertrude
post Yesterday, 01:27 AM
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South Korea’s Real Gdp Grows Above Forecast in Q1 2017



The South Korean economic growth accelerated in the first quarter of 2017, the advanced estimate of the Bank of Korea showed. The preliminary data for the first quarter indicated that the real GDP grew 0.9 percent on a sequential basis, as compared with the 0.5 percent growth seen in the prior quarter. This is more than the forecast of 0.7 percent growth.

Gross fixed capital formation contributed the most to the first quarter growth. It expanded 4 percent sequentially. Within the gross fixed capital formation, construction rose 5.3 percent. Meanwhile, private consumption rose 0.4 percent, with overseas consumption by residents increasing. Expenditures on non-durable goods and services dropped. Exports grew 1.9 percent sequentially, while imports were up 4.3 percent, thanks to growth in imports and machinery and equipment and precision instruments.

On a year-on-year basis, South Korea’s real GDP grew 2.7 percent in the March quarter, as compared with the 2.4 percent growth recorded in the fourth quarter of 2016. It is slightly above the forecast of 2.6 percent growth. Private consumption was up 2 percent, whereas government consumption rose 2.7 percent. On a year-on-year basis, construction was up 9.7 percent. Exports grew 3.7 percent year-on-year, while imports were up 9.4 percent.

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IFX Gertrude
post Yesterday, 04:02 AM
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Wall Street Slips as Trump Unveils Tax Plan



U.S. equities retreated as investors priced in President Donald Trump's plan for tax reform, while earnings season carried on. The proposal from the Trump administration reduced tax rates for businesses and on overseas corporate profits returned to the country.

The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 0.1 percent at 20,975.09, as Procter & Gamble led losses while Verizon outperformed. The S&P 500 fell 0.05 percent at 2,387.45, with real estate leading seven sectors down and telecommunication the top gainer. The Nasdaq composite lost 0.27 points to end at 6,025.23.

The S&P 500 dropped marginally after wavering near an all-time peak. Expectations for lower corporate taxes have been an advantage for stocks ever since Trump was elected in November.

Retail stocks jumped on Trump's announcement, as it revealed that it did not include a border adjustment tax. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT) climbed one percent.

Among stocks, United Technologies climbed 1.1 percent to $118.20 and gave the largest lift to the Dow industrials after posting a quarterly profit that exceeded expectations supported by higher sales in all four of its business units. Shares of Boeing lost almost one percent to $181.71 after the planemaker posted a decline in revenue.

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IFX Gertrude
post Today, 03:24 AM
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Announcement: Moody's: Russia and Turkey Face Common Growth Challenges, Despite Differing Exposure to Commodity Cycle



Credit ratings for Russia (Ba1, stable) and Turkey (Ba1, negative) broadly reflect a deterioration in previously supportive credit fundamentals, including their growth potential and, to a lesser extent, fiscal metrics, Moody's Investors Service said in a new peer comparison report.

The report, "Governments of Russia and Turkey Peer Comparison -- Turkey's Growth Potential and Russia's Fiscal and External Strengths Back Respective Credit Profiles", is available on www.moodys.com.

Moody's subscribers can access this report using the link at the end of this press release. The research is an update to the markets and does not constitute a rating action.

The report reviews the credit strengths and challenges that characterize the two countries, and gives Moody's forward-looking view of how the rating agency sees these drivers moving over the next 12 to 18 months.

"Turkey has greater economic growth potential, but Russia's economy is larger and wealthier," says Kristin Lindow, a Moody's Senior Vice President and co-author of the report. "We expect real GDP growth of around 3% in Turkey over the next four years, twice that of Russia's 1.5%, underpinned by Turkey's more favourable demographics. That said, downside risks proliferate with respect to Turkey's growth, while upside risks arguably dominate for Russia given that the worst of its recent crisis has passed."

With entrenched structural constraints -- low savings rates, declining total factor productivity and labour market inefficiencies in Turkey, and constrained household incomes, an ageing work force and over-dependence on hydrocarbons in Russia -- sluggish investment will likely suppress the potential growth of both countries in the absence of targeted structural reforms.

Turkey's demographics are more supportive of growth potential than Russia's, given that in 2016 57.9% of its population was under the age of 35, compared to 44.2% in Russia, according to United Nations figures.

Public debt in both Russia and Turkey is set to rise over the next two years, although the increases will be modest as a share of GDP. The starting point for Russia's debt is much lower (16% of GDP in 2016), thank Turkey's (28% of GDP). Debt servicing costs are also much lower in Russia.

While both countries usually run small budget deficits, maintaining these has become more difficult for Russia and Turkey as a result of country-specific challenges: lower oil prices in Russia's case and lower growth in Turkey's.

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Iraq Says to Trail Consensus at Next Month's OPEC Gathering



Iraq said it will simply go with the flow when OPEC convenes in Vienna this May to determine whether to prolong output accord, according to the country's oil chief.

Iraqi oil leader Jabar Ali al-Luaibi reiterated Thursday they are definitely going with the consensus reached by the oil cartel during their gathering.

He added the country is fully committed to the agreement as it has attained around 97% of its production target.

Luaibi also said the production cuts led by the organization were slowly leading to a much-anticipated rebalancing of the crude market.

The Iraqi official stressed the OPEC decision to c

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