EXCHANGE RATE TRENDS
In fiscal year 2012, the global economy was dominated by uncertainty, which also significantly affected market participants’ expectations. This in turn substantially impacted exchange rates, leading to substantial volatility. The euro gained against the US dollar in the first two months of 2012 before weakening again up to mid-year. It then trended upwards again in the second half of the year. For 2013 and 2014, we expect euro exchange rates against the US dollar, sterling, Chinese renminbi and other key currencies to be stable, despite continuing high volatility in the financial markets. Event risk – defined as the risk arising from unforeseen market developments – has increased, however.
INTEREST RATE TRENDS
Interest rates remained extremely low in fiscal 2012 due to the ongoing expansionary monetary policy and the difficult overall economic environment. Several countries actually lowered their interest rates further in the course of the year. In 2013, we consider it unlikely that either Europe or the USA will adopt a more restrictive monetary policy, and hence increase interest rates. We are predicting that short- and long-term interest rates will only rise in 2014 if inflation increases.
DEVELOPMENT OF COMMODITY PRICES
Commodity prices were highly volatile in 2012. After peaks were recorded in the first and third quarters, prices tailed off as the year drew to a close. The main reasons for this were the downward revisions in growth estimates for Europe and the US economy in particular, and their impact on global development. Assuming that the global economy continues to grow, we expect prices of most exchange-traded raw materials to remain high, but to fluctuate considerably, in 2013 and 2014. Prices for raw materials may also fall if growth rates decline.