What’s happened in markets?

FTSE All Share 0.72 2.54 7.59 11.70 18.82 1.88 7.25
Euro Stoxx 50 0.48 5.08 12.04 17.22 29.11 8.82 9.86
S&P 500 0.64 1.75 12.66 13.34 38.06 17.62 17.25
Japan Topix 0.60 3.22 4.95 9.64 24.81 5.81 10.40
MSCI Asia Pac. 0.82 2.03 0.64 6.26 42.71 9.94 15.30
MSCI Emerg. Mkts. 1.60 3.74 3.22 7.71 42.99 9.32 14.14
Jo’burg All Shares 0.41 2.53 1.12 15.80 30.86 8.91 7.89
UK Gov’t Bonds -0.25 -0.39 -0.43 -6.58 -5.85 2.76 2.65
US Gov’t Bonds 0.13 0.27 0.48 -3.07 -2.53 4.70 2.34
Global Corp. Bonds 0.20 0.46 1.07 -1.82 4.35 6.48 4.77
Emerg. Mkt. Local Currency Bonds 0.67 2.74 2.27 -2.05 6.06 4.27 4.63

Figures in the respective local currencies as at the end of trading on 4/6/2021.

Some of the latest data to be published shows a positive trend for economies seeking to reach pre-pandemic activity levels. In the US, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rose to a stronger-than-expected 61.2 in May, versus 60.7 in April, while the ISM non-manufacturing PMI increased to a record high of 64 in May from 62.7 in April. The Eurozone also saw its IHS Markit composite PMI revised higher to 57.1 in May of 2021, up from the preliminary 56.9, as a result of the strongest growth in private sector activity since February 2018. Last but not least, the UK’s latest economic data was also positive with final reading of the IHS Markit/CIPS UK composite PMI revised higher to 62.9 in May 2021, from its preliminary estimate of 62.0. This last number marks the steepest rate of expansion since records began in January 1998, on the back of the service sector expanding at its fastest pace in 24 years.

Against this backdrop, however, US job numbers disappointed as non-farm payrolls rose by 559,000 in May, missing the forecast of 650,000, despite marking a significant jump in the 278,000 jobs posted in April.

The threat of damaging inflation also continues to be at the forefront of investors’ minds as the flash consumer price index published by the Eurozone was 2% up in May versus May 2020 and expectations for the US – due on Thursday 10 June – are for a year-on-year increase of 4.6%, the highest since late 2008. Investors may need more convincing of the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) mantra that inflation is expected to be relatively short lived, especially now they have started to unwind bond market purchases, and that the central bank is right to remain focused on the jobs market.

The conflicting stories we read highlight the challenges we all face, from central bankers, professional analysts and individual investors, in trying to interpret the environment in an atypical backdrop. Any likely scenario remains particularly hard to fathom given the lack of historical examples to follow. There are no insights as to how economies will put forced closures and restrictions behind them, rather than the typical wind downs, even if these have been as a result of mismanagement.

Elsewhere, the G7 reached a landmark deal to impose a 15% minimum corporate tax on ‘foreign earnings’, targeting the income that technology companies have manipulated to lower their tax bills. While the move draws a line under a 40 year race to the bottom in terms of taxation, risks remain regarding its implementation. Its next stop is the G20, before it will be passed to the OECD-led tax group to agree a practical framework and allow the measure to proceed to legislation. While there has been a shift in the mindset of the majority of governments on taxation, due to the need to fund the deficits due to the pandemic, there is still the potential for stumbling blocks as the recent rhetoric by the US Republican party highlights.

In markets, emerging markets (+4%) outpaced developed markets (+2%) over the past 30 days and, style-wise, value stocks (+3%) outperformed growth (+2%) over the same period, with energy (+7%), financials (+5%) and real estate (+5%) leading the charge. Year-on-year returns, meanwhile, put growth stocks marginally ahead with an increase of 39% versus 37%. Small capitalisation stocks returned +2% while the 30 day return for large capitalisation stocks was +3%.

Latest Consensus Forecast
UK GDP (QoQ) -1.5  –
UK PMI 62.9  –
UK CPI (YoY) 1.5  –
EU GDP (QoQ) -0.6 -0.6
EU PMI 57.1  –
EU CPI (YoY) 2.0  –
US GDP (QoQ) 6.4  –
US PMI 64.0  –
US CPI (YoY) 4.2 4.7

What’s happened in portfolios?

It is clear that risk appetites continue to swell and while there has been a shift towards investors favouring growth stocks again, our value investments have been solid due to their bias towards energy and financial services.

Our property positions have also benefited from the increasing optimism, particularly in the UK, of the expected jump in economic activity as non-essential shops begin to fill and restaurant services return to full capacity.

Elsewhere, our investment trusts focused on healthcare were held back given the likelihood that demand levels for this sector will have levelled out

On the fixed income front, the appetite for risk has also been apparent, as shown in the high yield and corporate bond markets. However, given we expect opportunities to support portfolios through an increased bias towards short-term debt, there will likely be further investments in this market announced shortly. Watch this space!

What’s happening this week?

10 Jun • ECB Interest Rate Decision | 10 Jun • US CPI | 11 Jun • UK GDP