Oil is everywhere. But what matters most are the idiosyncratic stories. Within this context, it is fair to say that an emerging market bond portfolio is unlikely to be fully immune to oil. Looking into 2016, this is good news if you are bullish oil: any significant oil price increase will in most cases drive a rally in emerging market assets. If you are bearish oil, you may still find interesting investment opportunities: the Oil & Gas sector in emerging markets generated a negative return of -3.0% in 2015 but the dispersion of corporate bond returns was huge and not necessarily correlated to oil prices. For instance, the fall in Petrobras bonds was more driven by the ongoing corruption scandal in Brazil and the group’s debt levels than the actual decline in oil prices. On the other hand, despite their country exposure, PDVSA (Venezuelan state-owned oil company) or LUKOIL (Russia-based oil producer) bonds had double-digit total returns in 2015. In what might be a good lesson for 2016, it shows that in emerging markets, in many cases, macro and credit idiosyncratic stories matter more than oil.
The value of investments will fluctuate, which will cause prices to fall as well as rise and you may not get back the original amount you invested. Past performance is not a guide to future performance.
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