August’s investment market commentary

August was a relatively quiet month for market participants, although concerns regarding the Delta variant and further regulatory changes in China occasionally disrupted the calm. However, US employment data left a positive impact, as Tom Caddick’s update discusses.
Published 8 September
2 mins

August proved to be a relatively quiet month, as it often can be, with many market participants enjoying time away from their desks, albeit mainly on staycations this year given travel restrictions. Lingering concerns regarding the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 and further regulatory changes in China occasionally disrupted the calm. Sentiment was supported by positive employment data out of the United States at the start of the month and the dovish stance of Federal Reserve (Fed) chairman, Jerome Powell, at the annual central bank meeting at Jackson Hole towards the end of August. 

In fact, Powell’s speech at Jackson Hole (which was actually held remotely this year due to COVID-19 concerns) was the main focus of attention for markets during the month.

The key highlights of Powell’s speech were:

  1. He thought tapering of Fed bond buying could begin this year as clear progress had been made in terms of employment
  2. He stressed that tapering was not a signal for interest rate increases
  3. He warned that monetary policy should not respond to transitory inflation pressures; as any moves to tighten prematurely could needlessly slow hiring and keep inflation too low.

Global equity markets were overall positive (+2.6%), with emerging market equities (+2.3%) lagging developed markets only slightly. This could be seen as improvement on July, when concerns over regulatory changes in China dragged emerging market stocks down sharply. In terms of style, persistent concerns around the Delta variant meant growth stocks (+3.2%) outperformed the more value (+1.8%) orientated equities. This was also reflected in sector performance with information technology and communication services (stay at home stocks) among the best performing areas, while cyclical sectors such as energy and materials lagged.

Within fixed income markets, the general risk on environment meant that global high yield generated the best performance (+0.7%). In comparison, global government bonds generated negative returns, the slight increase in government yields over the month was mainly as a result of the increasing expectation that most major central banks around the world will soon be reducing the amount of bonds they buy.

In terms of real assets, property markets generated an equity-like return over the month with the global REITs index up +1.7% over the period. Commodities were mainly unchanged, the only exception was crude oil (-6.9%) which fell sharply on the back of concerns over slowing economic growth due to the Delta variant.

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This month’s values quoted as at 31/08/2021. The above values are sourced from Bloomberg and are quoted in the relevant currency.

Clients of Nedbank Private Wealth can get in touch with their private bankers directly to understand how their portfolios are responding to market events or call +44 (0)1624 645000 and speak to our client services team.


If you would like to find out more about how we help manage clients’ investments, please also contact us on the number above. Or you can get in touch using the links to the forms towards the end of this page.

Investments can go down, as well as up, to the extent that you might get back less than the total you originally invested. Exchange rates also impact the value of your investments. Past performance is no guide to future returns. Any individual investment or security mentioned here may not be suitable, and is included for information only and is not a recommendation. You should always seek professional advice before making any investment decisions.

about the author

Tom Caddick

Tom Caddick

Tom was appointed in March 2021 and brings to the table over 20 years’ investment experience. Prior to joining, he was at Santander Asset Management in London for nine years, where he was, most recently, the chief investment officer for its UK business, having previously been the global head of the multi asset division. Tom also spent several years as head of multi manager and fund selection at LV Asset Management.

Tom sits within Nedgroup Investments, a sister company, which provides investment advice, research and portfolio modelling solutions to Nedbank Private Wealth. Here, he heads up the London-based investment team. It is in this capacity that he is a member of Nedbank Private Wealth’s investment committee.

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