Exchange rate, interest rate and commodity price trends
EXCHANGE RATE TRENDS
The global economy lost a little of its momentum in 2015. Falling energy and commodity prices, uncertainty about the change in the Chinese growth model and the declining confidence in the economic stability of emerging markets resulted in further weakening of the currencies of those countries. The euro stabilized at a low level against the US dollar, the Chinese renminbi and sterling in the course of the year. Despite appreciating temporarily, the Russian ruble remained weak, losing substantial ground again in the second half of the year. For 2016, we are forecasting that the euro will gain some strength against the US dollar, Chinese renminbi, sterling and other key currencies. The expectation is that the Russian ruble will remain weak. We currently assume that these trends will continue in the period 2017 to 2020. There is still a general event risk – defined as the risk arising from unforeseen market developments.
INTEREST RATE TRENDS
Interest rates remained extremely low in fiscal year 2015 due to the continuation of expansionary monetary policy and the challenging overall economic environment. In the major Western industrialized nations, key interest rates persisted at a historic low level. While it became apparent in the USA and the UK that the extremely loose monetary policy was gradually drawing to an end, the European Central Bank continued to pursue this course. In light of further expansionary monetary policy measures in the eurozone, we therefore consider it unlikely that interest rates will rise significantly in 2016. In the USA and the UK, however, we can expect to see a moderate increase in interest rates. For the period 2017 to 2020, we anticipate a gradual rise in interest rates.
COMMODITY PRICE TRENDS
Many commodity prices decreased further in 2015. This was principally due to increasing excess supply in the global markets, but also to weaker economic growth in China and the strong US dollar. Assuming somewhat stronger growth in the global economy, we expect prices of most exchange-traded raw materials in 2016 to fluctuate around the current level. Provided there is a further recovery, we believe that commodity prices will rise in the period 2017 to 2020.