What’s happened in markets?

FTSE All Share -1.14 0.66 0.29 0.56 9.01 4.28 5.05
Euro Stoxx 50 -0.09 -1.94 -8.71 -10.09 -1.90 6.17 5.46
S&P 500 -2.74 -5.22 -2.52 -9.99 4.75 15.58 14.73
Japan Topix 0.47 -0.49 -0.11 -3.38 1.28 8.04 7.46
MSCI Asia Pac. -3.11 -5.51 -14.06 -13.36 -20.84 2.45 5.70
MSCI Emerg. Mkts. -3.33 -4.70 -13.12 -12.23 -17.78 2.23 4.99
Jo’burg All Shares -1.48 -3.88 -1.52 0.02 13.20 10.85 10.52
UK Gov’t Bonds -0.17 -1.70 -7.92 -9.85 -9.13 -0.86 -0.20
US Gov’t Bonds -0.60 -2.70 -7.03 -8.47 -7.63 0.62 0.93
Global Corp. Bonds -1.20 -3.15 -8.69 -10.37 -9.01 1.14 2.10
Emerg. Mkt. Local -2.06 -2.77 -8.63 -8.39 -11.77 -1.37 0.39
Figures in the respective local currencies as at the end of trading on 22/04/2022.

In the week of 18 April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published its latest World Economic Outlook which stated that global economic prospects had worsened significantly since its last forecast in January. The latest report downgraded its global growth forecast to 3.6% in 2022 and 2023, from 4.4% and 3.8% respectively in its previous report. Expectations had been for the global recovery to strengthen as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic receded, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February has set this back with slowed growth and increasing pressure on inflation. The IMF also cited significant divergences between the economic recoveries of emerging markets and developed ones. With renewed COVID-19 lockdowns in China slowing activity there and causing further bottlenecks in global supply chains.

In Europe, the German annual producer price index came in at 30.9%, the highest reading since records began in 1949. This indicates that producer prices for industrial products have increased sharply in the eurozone’s largest economy putting further pressure on inflation. It also reflects Germany’s exposure to the conflict in Ukraine as it relies heavily on Russian natural gas imports for its manufacturing sector.

Meanwhile in the US, President Joe Biden triggered a diplomatic warning from Russia when he described the invasion of Ukraine as genocide and increased the weaponry aid to the beleaguered country.

In other news, Russia is in danger of defaulting on its sovereign debts after a US industry body ruled that it failed to meet its obligations to foreign creditors when it paid them with roubles, rather than US dollars, earlier in April.

The week of 18 April was also a difficult one for China’s economy as the nation’s zero tolerance to COVID-19 and ongoing lockdown strategy sent markets tumbling. In response, at a meeting on Thursday 21 April, the securities regulator endorsed domestic stocks and urged institutional investors to buy more.

In corporate news, the US streaming service Netflix reported a decline in subscribers for the first time, which resulted in its stock falling 35% on Thursday 21 April. This brought its year-to-date losses to -62.5% and made it the worst performer in the S&P 500 this year.

In markets, developed markets (-4.2%) performed slightly better than emerging markets (-5.5%) over the short term, although they continued to deliver better returns over the longer term. Markets continued to be highly volatile with growth stocks (-7.1%) underperforming the most over the last 30 days, while value stocks (-1.6%) were also down. Both small capitalisation stocks (-3.8%) and large capitalisation stocks (-4.3%) performed similarly over the last 30 days. Consumer staples (+4.2%) was the best performing sector, while commercial services (-9.5%) and information technology (-8.2%) were the worst over the previous 30 days. Bonds continue to fall in value to price in the hawkish rhetoric from central banks. The US yield curve is now pricing in 50 basis point rises in interest rates over the Federal Reserve’s next three meetings.

The Japanese yen depreciated for 13 consecutive days, with Japan’s monetary policy currently out of sync with the majority of other major economies.

Latest Consensus Forecast
UK GDP (QoQ) 1.3
UK PMI 57.6
UK CPI (YoY) 7.0
EU GDP (QoQ) 0.3 0.3
EU PMI 55.8
EU CPI (YoY) 7.4
US GDP (QoQ) 6.9 1.0
US PMI 58.3 59.0
US CPI (YoY) 8.5

What’s happened in portfolios?

The market is currently favourable for equities, but we expect the volatility to continue. We have a preference for domestic developed markets, but remain cognisant of the current geopolitical risks in Europe and have moderated our overweight there recently.

For fixed income assets, the economic environment is less favourable. Starting yields are at historically low levels, while inflation remains a clear threat to mid- to longer-duration positioning. We retain our preference for taking credit rather than duration risk and our short duration position continues to help relative performance.

Real assets have been strong and remain an attractive alternative to fixed income to provide diversification and some inflation protection. In particular, our bias towards infrastructure over the last six months has been beneficial given valuations and recovery potential. REITS have also done well on the back of the successful vaccine rollout and the global reopening of economies, as more people return to the office.

Alternative strategies provide another credible diversifier within portfolios in the current environment, with our private equity holdings benefiting from the post-pandemic reopening of economies.

What’s happening this week?

28 Apr • US Gross Domestic Product | 28 Apr • US Initial Jobless Claims | 29 Apr • EU Consumer Price Index