EXCHANGE RATE TRENDS
The global economy was dominated by uncertainty in fiscal year 2011. Growth in the individual economic regions varied, while the debt crises in certain European countries and the USA affected market participants’ expectations. These expectations seriously impacted exchange rates, leading to substantial volatility. The euro gained against the US dollar in the first half of the year before weakening again in the course of the second half. For 2012 and 2013, we expect euro exchange rates against the dollar and other key currencies to be stable, despite continuing high volatility in the financial markets.
INTEREST RATE TRENDS
Interest rates remained extremely low in fiscal 2011 due to the ongoing expansionary monetary policy adopted by certain countries and the difficult overall economic environment. In 2012, we consider it unlikely that Europe and the USA will adopt a restrictive monetary policy, and hence increase interest rates. We are predicting that long-term interest rates will remain stable worldwide in 2013 and that short-term and long-term rates will only rise if inflation increases.
DEVELOPMENT OF COMMODITY PRICES
Once again, commodity prices were highly volatile in 2011. The price rises that had started in the previous year initially continued in the first quarter of 2011. However, prices tailed off from the middle of the second quarter onwards and then fell back clearly in the course of the rest of the year. The main reasons for this were the downward revisions in growth estimates for both the eurozone and the US economy, and their impact on global development. Under the assumption that global economic growth remains on a level with 2011, we expect commodity prices for most exchange-traded raw materials to pick up again in 2012 and 2013. Prices may fall if the global economy enters a downward trend.