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March’s investment market commentary

While 2021 was strong for markets, the first quarter of 2022 proved to be more challenging. With rising concerns over inflation and war, how have markets in March taken to the conditions? Find out in Tom Caddick’s review.
Published 8 April
3 1⁄2 mins

After a very strong 2021, the first quarter of 2022 proved more of a challenge for markets. Concerns over rising inflation, tightening monetary policy, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, meant most asset classes lost ground over the quarter.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine towards the end of February was unquestionably the main story of the quarter. While Russia is not a very large part of the global economy, Russia is a major energy and commodity producer (Ukraine is also a sizeable exporter of wheat and sunflower oil) and the escalation of tensions pushed energy and commodity prices to extreme levels, exacerbating the surge in inflation caused by supply chain disruptions as a result of the pandemic, and acted as a risk to global growth; especially given the dependency of Europe on Russian gas and crude oil.

High and persistent inflation, largely as a result of supply-side issues, meant that the central bank narrative that inflation was “transitory” began to change at the beginning of the year, and over the quarter central banks became gradually more hawkish, driving bond yields higher. In fact, the US Federal Reserve raised its target rate by 0.25% in March, the first time since the pandemic, with the expectation that many more increases will be necessary over the next two years. The Bank of England raised its policy rate twice in the first quarter, reaching 0.75%. These increases in interest rates, albeit from a very low level, indicate that despite the uncertainties and economic effects related to the geopolitical situation, central banks view inflation, and keeping longer-term inflation expectations well anchored, as paramount, unless the growth outlook deteriorates sharply. With unemployment currently at post-pandemic lows in many countries, but inflation at multi-decade highs (US 7.9%, UK 6.2%, Europe 7.5%), you can understand why central banks are starting to tighten monetary policy. The dilemma for central banks, over the next few years, will be stemming inflation without tipping economies into recession.

It would be fair to say that, although March saw developed markets recover some lost ground, it was not a good quarter for risk assets, with many equity markets posting their first quarterly loss since the onset of the pandemic in Q1 2020. Global equity markets fell -4.7% on the quarter, despite rallying +2.5% in March, with the areas

INDEXEND FEBRUARY VALUEEND MARCH VALUE
FTSE 1007458.257515.68
DJ Ind. Average33892.6034678.35
S&P Composite4373.944530.41
Nasdaq 10014237.8114838.49
Nikkei26526.8227821.43
£/$1.3421.3138
€/£0.836080.84239
€/$1.12191.1067
£ Base Rate0.500.75
Brent Crude97.97104.71
Gold1908.991937.44

This month’s values quoted as at 31/03/2022. 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 joined Nedbank Private Wealth as its chief investment officer in March 2021. Prior to joining, Tom was at Santander Asset Management in London for nine years, where he was, most recently, chief investment officer for the UK business and previously global head of the multi asset division. He has over 20 years’ investment experience, including several years as head of multi manager and fund selection at LV Asset Management.

 

Tom’s responsibilities include heading the London-based investment team, and chairing both the International Strategy Committee and the International Investment Committee. Tom is also part of the international investment team for Nedgroup Investments, a sister company of Nedbank Private Wealth.

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