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Expected economic framework conditions

Global economic growth is likely to pick up again somewhat in 2013. In the eurozone, although the measures to combat the sovereign debt crisis are still tempering economic expectations as before, there is a good chance that the economy in the strong core countries will recover to a notable extent and many euro nations will return to growth. In the Southern peripheral countries however, the adjustment recession is likely to persist in 2013 and consequently current forecasts for the year as a whole are based on stagnation in the eurozone.

We expect the ECB to counter the collapse of the eurozone by keeping key lending rates low, buying up bonds and providing extensive liquidity. As a result, money market interest rates are set to remain extremely low in 2013 as well. Three-month EURIBOR could even drop below its average value for 2012.

In the bond market, the discrepancy between significantly negative real yields in the core countries and high yields for weaker credit ratings in the peripheral countries is expected to continue. Yields on German government bonds are likely to rise moderately at best, while countries in Southern Europe especially expect credit spreads to remain high. On the whole, we therefore expect the interest margin in deposit business to decline by comparison with the average for 2012.

The equity markets should be able to build on the upward trend of 2012, as long as the cautious recovery in the eurozone and the global economy remains stable. This is because equities have become more attractive by comparison with the returns offered by other forms of financial asset accumulation. However, ongoing weak global growth is likely to affect corporate profits and restrict upside price potential in the first half of 2013 at least. All in all, economists at Commerzbank expect the DAX to make significant gains over the course of the year. Nevertheless, their target price for the DAX of 8,500 is based primarily on the assumption that risk premiums in the equity markets will fall in the wake of a sustained easing of the eurozone debt crisis and stronger economic growth. It is not possible at the moment to assess whether the forecast positive sentiment will also stimulate securities trading.

Regardless of the development in the money and capital markets, we expect the long-term market and investor trends that favour the comdirect group’s direct banking model to continue. An improved internet infrastructure, continually higher security standards and waning resistance to web-based banking models mean that bank customers are considering switching to a direct bank. With the comdirect and ebase apps, we are also benefiting from the growing trend towards banking by smartphone. Further opportunities stem from tighter regulations for asset managers and ebase can take advantage of these with its complete and largely standardised offering for asset accumulation, maintenance and drawdown.