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List of Countries in the World

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1 Afghanistan South-Central Asia
2 Albania Southern Europe
3 Algeria Northern Africa
4 American Samoa Polynesia, Oceania
5 Andorra Southern Europe
6 Angola Central Africa
7 Anguilla Leeward Islands, Caribbean
8 Antarctica Antarctica
9 Antigua and Barbuda Leeward Islands, Caribbean
10 Argentina Southern South America
11 Armenia Western Asia
12 Aruba Leeward Islands, Caribbean
13 Australia Australia
14 Austria Western Europe
15 Azerbaijan Western Asia
16 Bahamas Caribbean
17 Bahrain Arabian Peninsula, Middle East
18 Bangladesh South-Central Asia
19 Barbados Lesser Antilles, Caribbean
20 Belarus Eastern Europe
21 Belgium Western Europe
22 Belize Central America
23 Benin West Africa
24 Bermuda North America
25 Bhutan South-Central Asia
26 Bolivia Central South America
27 Bosnia and Herzegovina Southern Europe
28 Botswana Southern Africa
29 Brazil Central Eastern South America
30 Brunei Darussalam Southeast Asia
31 Bulgaria Eastern Europe
32 Burkina Faso Western Africa
33 Burundi Eastern Africa, African Great Lakes
34 Cambodia South-East Asia
35 Cameroon Central Africa
36 Canada North North America
37 Cape Verde Western Africa
38 Cayman Islands Greater Antilles, Caribbean
39 Central African Republic Central Africa
40 Chad Central Africa
41 Chile Western South America
42 China Eastern Asia
43 Christmas Island Southeast Asia
44 Cocos (Keeling) Islands South-East Asia, Australia
45 Colombia North West South America
46 Comoros Eastern Africa
47 Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa) Central Africa
48 Congo, Republic of (Brazzaville) Central Africa
49 Cook Islands Polynesia, Oceania
50 Costa Rica Central America
51 Ivory Coast Western Africa
52 Croatia Southern Europe
53 Cuba Greater Antilles, Caribbean
54 Cyprus Mediterranean, Western Asia
55 Czech Republic Eastern Europe
56 Denmark Northern Europe
57 Djibouti Eastern Africa
58 Dominica Lesser Antilles, Caribbean
59 Dominican Republic Greater Antilles, Caribbean
60 East Timor (Timor-Leste) South-East Asia
61 Ecuador North West South America
62 Egypt Africa, Middle East
63 El Salvador Central America
64 Equatorial Guinea Central Africa
65 Eritrea Eastern Africa
66 Estonia Northern Europe
67 Ethiopia Eastern Africa
68 Falkland Islands Southern South America
69 Faroe Islands Northern Europe
70 Fiji Melanesia, Oceania
71 Finland Northern Europe
72 France Western Europe
73 French Guiana Northern South America
74 French Polynesia Polynesia, Oceania
75 French Southern Territories Southern South America, Antarctic
76 Gabon Central Africa
77 Gambia Western Africa
78 Georgia Western Asia
79 Germany Western Europe
80 Ghana Western Africa
81 Gibraltar Southern Europe
82 Great Britain Northern Europe
83 Greece Southern Europe
84 Greenland North America
85 Grenada Lesser Antilles, Caribbean
86 Guadeloupe Lesser Antilles, Caribbean
87 Guam Micronesia, Oceania
88 Guatemala Central America
89 Guinea Western Africa
90 Guinea-Bissau Western Africa
91 Guyana North Eastern South America
92 Haiti Greater Antilles, Caribbean
93 Holy See Southern Europe within Italy
94 Honduras Central America
95 Hong Kong Eastern Asia
96 Hungary Eastern Europe
97 Iceland Northern Europe
98 India South-Central Asia
99 Indonesia Maritime South-East Asia
100 Iran (Islamic Republic of) South-Central Asia
101 Iraq Middle East, Western Asia
102 Ireland Northern Europe
103 Israel Middle East, Western Asia
104 Italy Southern Europe
105 Jamaica Greater Antilles, Caribbean
106 Japan Eastern Asia
107 Jordan Middle East, Western Asia
108 Kazakhstan Central Asia
109 Kenya Eastern Africa
110 Kiribati Micronesia, Oceania
111 Korea, Democratic People’s Rep. (North Korea) Eastern Asia
112 Korea, Republic of (South Korea) Eastern Asia
113 Kuwait Middle East, Western Asia
114 Kyrgyzstan Central Asia
115 Lao, People’s Democratic Republic South-East Asia
116 Latvia Northern Europe
117 Lebanon Middle East, Western Asia
118 Lesotho Southern Africa
119 Liberia Western Africa
120 Libya Northern Africa
121 Liechtenstein Western Europe
122 Lithuania Northern Europe
123 Luxembourg Western Europe
124 Macau Eastern Asia
125 Macedonia, Rep. of Southern Europe
126 Madagascar Eastern Africa
127 Malawi Eastern Africa
128 Malaysia Southeast Asia
129 Maldives South-Central Asia
130 Mali Western Africa
131 Malta Southern Europe
132 Marshall Islands Micronesia, Oceania
133 Martinique Lesser Antilles, Caribbean
134 Mauritania Western Africa
135 Mauritius Eastern Africa
136 Mayotte Eastern Africa
137 Mexico North America
138 Micronesia, Federal States of Micronesia, Oceania
139 Moldova, Republic of Eastern Europe
140 Monaco Southern Europe
141 Mongolia Eastern Asia
142 Montenegro Southern Europe
143 Montserrat Lesser Antilles, Caribbean
144 Morocco Northern Africa
145 Mozambique Eastern Africa
146 Myanmar, Burma Southeast Asia
147 Namibia Southern Africa
148 Nauru Micronesia, Oceania
149 Nepal South-Central Asia
150 Netherlands Western Europe
151 Netherlands Antilles Caribbean
152 New Caledonia Melanesia, Oceania
153 New Zealand Oceania; Australia
154 Nicaragua Central America
155 Niger Western Africa
156 Nigeria Western Africa
157 Niue Polynesia, Oceania
158 Northern Mariana Islands Micronesia, Oceania
159 Norway Northern Europe
160 Oman Middle East
161 Pakistan South-Central Asia
162 Palau Micronesia, Oceania
163 Palestinian territories Middle East, Western Asia
164 Panama Central America
165 Papua New Guinea Maritime Southeast Asia, Melanesia, Oceania
166 Paraguay Central South America
167 Peru Western South America
168 Philippines Southeast Asia
169 Pitcairn Island Polynesia, Oceania
170 Poland Eastern Europe
171 Portugal Southern Europe
172 Puerto Rico Greater Antilles, Caribbean
173 Qatar Arabian Peninsula, Middle East
174 Reunion Island Eastern Africa
175 Romania Eastern Europe
176 Russian Federation Eastern Europe – Northern Asia
177 Rwanda Eastern Africa, African Great Lakes
178 Saint Kitts and Nevis Lesser Antilles, Caribbean
179 Saint Lucia Lesser Antilles, Caribbean
180 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Lesser Antilles, Caribbean
181 Samoa Polynesia, Oceania
182 San Marino Southern Europe within Italy
183 Sao Tome and Principe Central Africa
184 Saudi Arabia Arabian Peninsula, Middle East
185 Senegal Western Africa
186 Serbia Southern Europe
187 Seychelles Eastern Africa
188 Sierra Leone Western Africa
189 Singapore Southeast Asia
190 Slovakia (Slovak Republic) Eastern Europe
191 Slovenia Southern Europe
192 Solomon Islands Melanesia, Oceania
193 Somalia Eastern Africa
194 South Africa Southern Africa
195 South Sudan East-Central Africa
196 Spain Southern Europe
197 Sri Lanka South-Central Asia
198 Sudan Northern Africa
199 Suriname North-Eastern South America
200 Swaziland Southern Africa
201 Sweden Northern Europe
202 Switzerland Western Europe
203 Syria, Syrian Arab Republic Middle East, Western Asia
204 Taiwan (Republic of China) Eastern Asia
205 Tajikistan Central Asia
206 Tanzania; officially the United Republic of Tanzania Eastern Africa
207 Thailand South-East Asia
208 Tibet South-Central Asia
209 Timor-Leste (East Timor) Maritime South-East Asia
210 Togo Western Africa
211 Tokelau Oceania/Australia
212 Tonga Polynesia, Oceania
213 Trinidad and Tobago Northern South America, Caribbean
214 Tunisia Northern Africa
215 Turkey Southeastern Europe, Western Asia
216 Turkmenistan Central Asia
217 Turks and Caicos Islands Caribbean, parts of the Bahamas island chain.
218 Tuvalu Polynesia, Oceania
219 Uganda Eastern Africa
220 Ukraine Eastern Europe
221 United Arab Emirates Arabian Peninsula, Middle East
222 United Kingdom Northern Europe
223 United States North America
224 Uruguay Central East South America
225 Uzbekistan Central Asia
226 Vanuatu Melanesia, Oceania
227 Vatican City State (Holy See) Southern Europe within Italy
228 Venezuela Northern South America
229 Vietnam South-East Asia
230 Virgin Islands (British) Lesser Antilles, Caribbean
231 Virgin Islands (U.S.) Lesser Antilles, Caribbean
232 Wallis and Futuna Islands Polynesia, Oceania
233 Western Sahara Northern Africa
234 Yemen Arabian Peninsula, Middle East
235 Zambia Eastern Africa
236 Zimbabwe Eastern Africa

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Economic recovery likely to prove a ‘stuttering’ affair

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Economic recovery likely to prove a ‘stuttering’ affair 1

By Rupert Thompson, Chief Investment Officer at Kingswood

Equity markets continued their upward trend last week, with global equities gaining 1.2% in local currency terms. Beneath the surface, however, the recovery has been a choppy affair of late. China and the technology sector, the big outperformers year-to-date, retreated last week whereas the UK and Europe, the laggards so far this year, led the gains.

As for US equities, they have re-tested, but so far failed to break above, their post-Covid high in early June and their end-2019 level. The recent choppiness of markets is not that surprising given they are being buffeted by a whole series of conflicting forces.

Developments regarding Covid-19 as ever remain absolutely critical and it is a mixture of bad and good news at the moment. There have been reports of encouraging early trial results for a new treatment and potential vaccine but infection rates continue to climb in the US. Reopening has now been halted or reversed in states accounting for 80% of the population.

We are a long way away from a complete lockdown being re-imposed and these moves are not expected to throw the economy back into reverse. But they do emphasise that the economic recovery, not only in the US but also elsewhere, is likely to prove a ‘stuttering’ affair.

Indeed, the May GDP numbers in the UK undid some of the optimism which had been building recently. Rather than bouncing 5% m/m in May as had been expected, GDP rose a more meagre 1.8% and remains a massive 24.5% below its pre-Covid level in February.

Even in China, where the recovery is now well underway, there is room for some caution. GDP rose a larger than expected 11.5% q/q in the second quarter and regained all of its decline the previous quarter. However, the bounce back is being led by manufacturing and public sector investment, and the recovery in retail sales is proving much more hesitant.

China is not just a focus of attention at the moment because its economy is leading the global upturn but because of the increasing tensions with Hong Kong, the US and UK. UK telecoms companies have now been banned from using Huawei’s 5G equipment in the future and the US is talking of imposing restrictions on Tik Tok, the Chinese social media platform. While this escalation is not as yet a major problem, it is a potential source of market volatility and another, albeit as yet relatively small, unwelcome drag on the global economy.

Government support will be critical over coming months and longer if the global recovery is to be sustained. This week will be crucial in this respect for Europe and the US. The EU, at the time of writing, is still engaged in a marathon four-day summit, trying to reach an agreement on an economic recovery fund.  As is almost always the case, a messy compromise will probably end up being hammered out.

An agreement will be positive but the difficulty in reaching it does highlight the underlying tensions in the EU which have far from gone away with the departure of the UK. Meanwhile in the US, the Democrats and Republicans will this week be engaged in their own battle over extending the government support schemes which would otherwise come to an end this month.

Most of these tensions and uncertainties are not going away any time soon. Markets face a choppy period over the summer and autumn with equities remaining at risk of a correction.

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European trading firms begin coming to terms with the new normal

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European trading firms begin coming to terms with the new normal 2

By Terry Ewin, Vice President EMEA, IPC

In recent weeks, the phrase ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’ has received a large amount of usage. Management consultancies, industry associations and organisations, including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have all used it in order to discuss how the current crisis, caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, presents an opportunity for new and worthwhile change.

The saying is also commonly used to indicate that the destruction and damage that is caused by a crisis gives organisations the chance to rebuild, and to do things that would not have previously been possible. This has the potential to impact financial trading firms, where projects that this time last year would not have made much sense now appearing to be as clear as day. In Europe, banks and brokers alike are beginning to think about what life will look like post-pandemic, and how their technology strategies may need changing.

We can think of three distinct phases when it comes to a crisis. Firstly, there is the emergency phase. This is followed by the transition period before we come to the post-crisis period.

Starting with the emergency phases, this is when firms are in critical crisis management mode. Plans are activated to ensure business continuity, and banks and brokers work to ensure critical functions can still take place so as to continue servicing their clients. With regards to the current crisis period, both large and small European banks and brokers were able to handle this phase relatively well, partly due to the fact that communications technology has reached the point where productive Work From Home (WFH) strategies are in place. For example, cloud-connectivity, in addition to the use of soft turrets for trading, has enabled traders from across the continent to keep working throughout lockdown. From our work with clients, we know that they were able to make a relatively smooth transition to WFH operations.

In relation to the current coronavirus crisis, we are in the second phase – the transition period. This is the stage when financial companies begin figuring out how best to manage the worst effects of the ongoing crisis, whilst planning longer-term changes for a post-crisis world. One thing to note with this phase, is that no one knows how long it will last. There is still so much we don’t know about this virus. As such, this has an impact on when it will be safe for businesses to operate in a similar way to how they were run in a pre-pandemic world. But with restrictions across Europe starting to be eased, there is an expectation that companies will start to slowly work their way towards more on-site trading. For example, banks are starting to look at hybrid operations, whereby traders come in a couple of times a week, and WFH for the rest of the week. This will result in fewer people in the office building, which makes it easier to practise social distancing. It also means that there is a continued reliance on the technology that enables people to WFH effectively.

Finally, we have the post-crisis period. In terms of the current crisis, this stage is very unlikely to occur until a vaccine has been developed and distributed to the masses. Although COVID-19 has caused mass economic disruption, many analysts are predicting a strong rebound once the medical pieces of the puzzles are put into place. It may not be entirely V-shaped, but the resiliency displayed by the financial markets thus far suggests that it will be healthy.

Currently, many European trading firms are taking what could be described as a two-pronged approach.

The first part of this consists of planning for the possibility of an extension to phase two. Medical experts have suggested that there could be some seasonality to the virus, with the threat of a second wave of COVID-19 cases in the Autumn meaning that the risk of new restrictions remains. If this comes to fruition, there would be a need for organisations to fine-tune their current WFH strategies and measures, and for them to take greater advantage of the cloud so as to power communications apps.

The second component consists of firms starting to think about the long-term needs of their trading systems. Simply put, they are preparing themselves for the third phase.

It is in this last sense, that the idea of never letting ‘a good crisis go to waste’ resonates most clearly.

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Currency movements and more: How Covid-19 has affected the financial markets

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Currency movements and more: How Covid-19 has affected the financial markets 3

The COVID-19 pandemic has been more than a health crisis. With people forced to stay indoors and all but the most essential services stopped for multiple weeks, economies have suffered and financial markets have crashed. Perhaps the most public and spectacular fall from grace during the early stages of the pandemic was oil. With travel bans in place around the world and no one filling up at the pumps, the price of oil plummeted.

Prior to global lockdowns, US oil prices were trading at $18 per barrel. By mid-April, the value had dropped to -$38. The crash was not only a shocking demonstrating of COVID-19’s impact but the first time crude oil’s price had fallen below zero. A rebound was inevitable, and many traders were quick to take long positions, which meant futures prices remained high. However, with stocks piling up and demand sinking, trading prices suffered. Unsurprisingly, it’s not the only market that’s taken a knock since COVID-19 struck.

Financial Markets Fluctuate During Pandemic

Shares in major companies have dipped. The Institute for Fiscal Studies compiled a round-up of price movements for industries listed by the London Stock Exchange. Tourism and Leisure have seen share prices drop by more than 20%. Major airlines, including BA, EasyJet and Ryanair have all been forced to make redundancies in the wake of falling share prices. The automotive industry has also taken a knock, as have retailers, mining and the media. However, in among the dark, there have been some patches of light.

The forex market has been a mixed bag. As it always is, the US dollar has remained a strong investment option. With emerging markets feeling the strain, traders have poured their money into traditionally strong currency pairs like EUR/USD. Looking at the data, IG’s EUR/USD price charts show a sharp drop in mid-March from 1.14 to 1.07. However, after the initial shock of COVID-19 lockdowns, the currency pair has steadily increased in value back up to 1.12 (June 25, 2020). The dominance of the dollar has been seen as a cause for concern among some financial experts. In essence, the crisis has highlighted the world’s reliance on it.

Currency Movements Divide Economies

Currency movements and more: How Covid-19 has affected the financial markets 4

In any walk of life, a single point of authority is dangerous. Indeed, if reliance turns into overreliance, it can cause a supply issue (not enough dollars to go around. More significantly, it could cause a power shift that gives the US too much control over economic policies in other countries. Fortunately, other currencies have performed well during the pandemic. Alongside USD and EUR, the GBP has also shown a degree of strength throughout the crisis. However, these positive movements haven’t been shared by all currencies.

The South African rand took a 32% hit during the early stages of the pandemic, while the Mexican peso and Brazilian real dropped 24% and 23%, respectively. Like the forex market, other sectors have experienced contrasting fortunes. Yes, shares in airlines and automotive manufacturers have fallen, but food and drug retailers have seen stocks rise. In fact, at one point, orange juice was the top performer across multiple indices. With the health benefits of vitamin C a hot topic, futures prices for orange juice jump up by 30%. The sudden surge had analysts predicting 60% gains as we move into a post-COVID-19 world.

Looking Towards the Future through Financial Markets

The future is always unknown and, due to COVID-19, it’s more uncertain than ever. However, the financial markets do provide an indication of how things may change. The performance of USD and EUR in the forex markets suggest there could be a lot more trade deals negotiated between the US and Europe. The surge in orange juice futures suggest that health and wellness will become a much more important part of our lives. Even though it was already a multi-billion-dollar industry, the realisation that a virus can alter the face of humanity has given more people pause for thought.

Then, of course, there’s the move towards remote working and socially distance entertainment. From Zoom to Slack, more people will be working and playing from home in the coming years. The world is always changing, but recent have events have made us appreciate this fact more than ever. The financial markets aren’t a crystal ball, but they can offer a glimpse into what we can expect in a post-COVID-19 world.

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