A measure of volatility on Wall Street - the Vix Index - is at its lowest level in decades. Paul Sommerville explained that the 'fear index' is measured by 'options prices' and it is a pulse of the level of volatility in the stock market.
"When traders are worried, they take out insurance. At the moment, they don't believe the market is moving in any direction so they don't take out insurance. We're at multi-decade lows on this index. If something unexpected happens, you would expect very big moves in these markets because nobody is prepared," he added.
Paul Sommerville said the situation had arisen mainly because of moves by Central Banks to flood the system with cash. "You have all this cash washing around the system and even when there's bad news, or Trump has said something peculiar, the market doesn't react. It's all to do with Central Bank policy," he explained.
He pointed out that there had bean a radical shift in investment patterns in recent weeks. Following the election in the US, many traditional stocks did very well on the expectation of pro-growth policies from the Trump administration, but that money has changed direction and flowed towards tech stocks. "There has been a rotation of stocks. The top five tech stocks are doing extremely well - Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft - but the rest of the market has not been doing well," he said. "Oil and bank stocks had a huge run up after the election but they've been giving up those gains. Money is flowing into small pockets of the global economy that are doing very well," he added.
The tech heavy Nasdaq hit another record high yesterday, but there was less cheer in after hours trade when shares in Snap, the parent of Snapchat, crashed having produced a disappointing set of quarterly results. "Shares in Snap are down about 40% since it floated. This is the first set of results the market has seen. The company is valued very high, it's a very speculative stock. They have disappointed. I would expect it to open around 25% lower this morning," Mr Sommerville stated.
MORNING BRIEFS - Forestry company Coillte has announced record earnings of €98.3m for 2016, up 10% on the previous year. It also reported revenue of just below €288m. The company has significantly increased its operating cash flow to €15.2m - more than double the previous year's level. Historically the company has broken even on this front or had negative cash, but it is targeting a doubling of operating cashflows over the next two years to increase returns to the shareholder. The dividend paid to the State increased by 24% in 2016 to €6.2m.
*** KBC Bank Ireland has reported first quarter profits of €70.4 m - after tax and impairments. This is over double the net profit for the same period last year. The bank's stock of impaired loans reduced by 16% to €5.4 billion, down from €6.4 billion in the first quarter of 2016. Its Belgian parent reported a net profit of €630m for the first three months of this year. It was down slightly on the same period last year but it said this was distorted by the booking of upfront banking taxes in the period. Loan impairments were flattered by the clawback of losses in the Irish market. They expect that impairment release for Ireland to be in the range of €120-160m for the year.
*** Shares in the company behind the messaging app, Snapchat, fell by more that a fifth after disappointing growth in the first three months of the year. It was the company's first set of results since floating on the New York Stock Exchange in March. The number of daily active users rose just 5% to 166 million compared with the last three months of 2016 - 2 million fewer than expected. The company's adjusted loss at $188m was about $10m higher than expected. The share price tumbled from $23 at the close to $17.68 in after hours trade - a new low since the stock debuted in March.
*** Traditional energy stocks had a good day on the markets yesterday on the back of a 3% jump in the price of oil. Fuel stockpiles continue to shrink, and that made investors more optimistic about energy company profits. The price of a barrel of Brent crude - the international benchmark - went above $50, making back most of the past week's losses.