What’s happened in markets?

FTSE All Share -2.0 3.7 16.3 3.6 -7.4 -0.1 7.4
Euro Stoxx 50 -1.2 2.3 13.0 1.4 -1.9 3.2 7.6
S&P500 -1.5 2.1 8.6 0.4 16.6 12.7 17.2
Japan Topix 0.1 4.3 13.9 2.9 9.9 1.9 8.2
MSCI Asia Pac 0.5 9.7 20.8 5.7 28.5 8.9 17.6
MSCI Emerg. Mkts. 0.3 8.7 21.4 5.2 22.1 6.7 16.9
Jo’burg All Shares 0.1 6.9 16.2 7.0 12.6 5.1 9.6
UK Gov’t Bonds 0.1 -0.4 -1.4 -1.4 4.7 5.0 4.6
US Gov’t Bonds 0.1 -0.9 -1.6 -1.1 6.0 5.0 3.2
Global Corp. Bonds 0.2 -0.1 1.5 -0.7 6.8 6.3 6.0
Emerg. Mkt. Local Currency Bonds -0.4 -0.2 6.7 -1.0 3.1 2.7 7.0

With high volumes of COVID-19 deaths continuing, Israel leads the pack with around 27% of its population vaccinated. Within the G201, the UK has made the most progress, with 6.5% of the population vaccinated, followed by the US at 3.7%. Europe is lagging behind, with Denmark and Malta only having vaccinated more than 2% of their populations.

On the economic front, data disappointed in the US where weekly initial jobless claims rose to 965,0002, the highest level since August and well above the 789,000 expected. Meanwhile, the US consumer price index for December showed the year-on-year number rise to +1.4%. On a brighter note, China reported its Q4 GDP number3, which rose by 6.5% year-on-year, bringing full year 2020 GDP growth to 2.3%. As such, China is the only major economy to have posted growth. This helped Emerging Markets [+0.14%] outperform their developed peers [-1.58%] given they, especially in Asia, are seen to be recovering more quickly from virus-linked economic lows.

President Trump was impeached for a second time on 13 January, another first in American history1. It remains unclear when the articles of impeachment will start, or if Trump will be convicted, as it requires 17 Republican Senators to agree. Meanwhile, Joe Biden has laid out a US$1.9 trillion stimulus plan1, composed of direct payments to individuals, small business aid, state and local government aid, and funding for a national vaccine rollout, among other initiatives.

Central banks sought to neutralise any fear over a premature increase in interest rates and a subsequent taper tantrum3, with both the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank stating that monetary policy is unlikely to tighten anytime soon.

In terms of style, value stocks [-0.51%] outperformed growth [-2.19%]. This outperformance was mainly driven by energy [+1.21%] and financial stocks [-0.34%], which were among the strongest sectors last week. Oil prices and energy stocks continue to be supported by the OPEC+ deal agreed in December, while financial stocks benefited from higher bond yields and the encouraging Q4 earning results some US financials annnounced during the week of 11 January.

Latest Consensus Forecast
UK GDP (QoQ) 16.0 -2.0
UK PMI 50.4 45.7
UK CPI (YoY) 0.3 0.5
EU GDP (QoQ) 12.5 -2.2
EU PMI 49.1 47.3
EU CPI (YoY) -0.3 -0.3
US GDP (QoQ) 33.4 4.3
US PMI 55.3 55.3
US CPI (YoY) 1.4 1.3
GDP = gross domestic product; PMI = Markit purchasing managers’ index; CPI = consumer price index

What’s happened in portfolios?

Within equities, Morgan Stanley Global Brands and Fundsmith have struggled so far this year as defensive stable earners have lagged the broader market. Thankfully, we sold some exposure to these funds towards the end of 2020 and increased our exposure to TT  and Emerging Markets, and cyclical and value stocks via Dodge and Cox.

Within bonds, our short duration and credit biases had little impact with bond yield and spreads little changed over the week of 11 January.

Our alternatives were mixed but mostly positive last week.  As such, global real estate marginally outperformed, while UK commercial property was hit by the latest lockdowns. The Renewables Infrastructure Group was down after it announced that it had purchased a stake in an offshore wind farm, while Hipgnosis’s acquisition of Shakira’s entire 145 song catalogue was viewed positively. And the GCP Asset Backed Income fund posted strong Q4 2020 results.

What’s happening this week?

20 Jan • Joe Biden Inauguration | 22 Jan • Flash PMIs | Earnings update from 43 S&P500 firms.