Interest in equity-linked notes in Japan has skyrocketed in recent weeks on the back of a slumping stock market, according to officials in Tokyo. "Issuance has picked up," said Jim Clark, head of equity trading at UBS Warburg in Japan. Equity derivatives professionals said as the Nikkei 225 has fallen below the 10,000 mark and recently hit 19-year lows at 8,983, more customers are looking to bet it is nearing its bottom. "A number of clients think the market will base around 9,000," said an equity derivatives sales head in Tokyo.
UBS is now handling around 10 deals per week whereas a month ago there was interest for only one or two transactions per week, said Clark. Yoshinari Endo, equity derivatives marketer at Mizuho Securities, agreed that there had been an increase in customer interest. "We're seeing many customer inquiries."
In a typical equity-linked note an investor sells a put on the Nikkei 225 index with a strike between 60-80% of the spot value. The average notional size of the notes is between JPY100-500 million (USD814,500-4 million).