The week in investor relations: Small-cap breakout, auditing climate risk, and common ESG standards
– Small-cap stocks have joined the rally in US stocks, according to MarketWatch. This week the Russell 2000 index, which covers the smaller 2,000 stocks of the Russell 3000, signaled a ‘potential breakout’ by achieving its first 52-week high for 15 months and then building on that over the week. The small-cap breakout ‘should be bullish for the broader market,’ said Andrew Adams, an analyst at Saut Strategy, in a note released on Wednesday.
– European investors are putting pressure on the big four audit firms to pay closer attention to climate risk as the global economy moves toward a low-carbon future, reported Reuters. The 29 investors, which collectively manage assets worth more than $1.2 tn, sent a letter to the audit firms in January but released it this week as they prepare to widen their campaign by targeting companies directly.
– French financial regulator the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) wants Europe to ‘move faster’ on setting ‘common standards’ for ESG investment, reported the Financial Times (paywall). Robert Ophèle, chairman of the AMF, said in a speech that some countries could undermine others in terms of ESG standards as more and more sustainable financial products come to market. He welcomed the work the EU is doing to become a global ESG leader but urged it to do more.
– Institutional investors have called on a range of major British companies to offer their employees a living wage, according to the Guardian. The investors want the companies to become accredited by the Living Wage Foundation, which encourages employers to pay more than the minimum wage. The Guardian reported that, while 5,500 companies in the UK are accredited as paying a living wage, only 38 of the FTSE 100 are signed up.
– Malaysian companies are the best at corporate disclosure in Asia, according to a ranking of markets released by FTI Consulting, reported The Business Times. The country’s publicly listed companies received an ‘average composite disclosure score’ of eight out of 10 in the Asia Disclosure Index 2019. Singaporean and Indian companies sat in joint second place with a score of 7.3 out of 10.