The end of June marks the end of the second quarter and the halfway point in the year. A good opportunity then to stop and digest what has been more than a hearty meal’s worth of news and activity during what can only be described as an atypical time in everyone’s lives, not just that of the economy.

And, once again, COVID-19 has been the main course, supplying daily news flow and driving both market sentiment and policy response. The continued rollout of the global vaccination programme has provided support to the argument for economic expansion and the unlocking of global trade, while concerns around inflation (not helped by a slightly muddled rhetoric from the Federal Reserve (Fed)) and the resurgence of the Delta variant have only served to pour some water onto heated expectations. But on the whole, it has been a good period for risk assets with global equity markets rising 2.1% on the month of June and closing the quarter 7.1% to the good. As has been our reading of events. The returns have been led by those markets best placed to benefit from an early lifting (corresponding to vaccination success), with the US up 8.8% on the quarter while Emerging Markets rose ‘only’ 3.8% over the same period.

While the case for value as an equity style remains intact for the year, and looking ahead, the quarter saw a swing back to growth-orientated stocks, up 10% to value’s 5%, with much of the differential seen during June. A stark reminder of the complexity of global markets currently.

Within fixed income markets, returns have remained mostly negative for the year albeit with some areas demonstrating a degree of resilience during the quarter. This was in part due to the mixed messaging from the Fed and a confused outlook for rates and inflation over the medium term. Both Treasuries and Gilts rallied by close to 2% on the quarter, but of particular note was the stronger performance of credit over the period, in particular high yield.

Turning briefly to ‘real assets’ and a reflection of the inflation story that has dominated market discussion of late, property markets appeared to rally well over the quarter with the global real estate investment trust index up more than 12% over the period. But it was commodities on the whole that caught the eye, with Brent crude up more than 24% during the quarter and energy up 22%. Industrial metals were up almost 10% on the quarter, matching the gains seen in the first quarter of the year. If sustained, these gains (costs) will feed through to consumer pricing in due course.

FTSE 100 7022.61 7037.47
DJ Ind. Average 34529.45 34502.51
S&P Composite 4204.11 4297.5
Nasdaq 100 13686.51 14554.8
Nikkei 28860.08 28791.53
£/$ 1.4212 1.3831
€/£ 0.86036 0.85719
€/$ 1.2227 1.1858
£ Base Rate 0.1 0.1
Brent Crude 69.32 74.62
Gold 1906.87 1770.11

This month’s values quoted as at 30/06/2021. The above values are sourced from Bloomberg and are quoted in the relevant currency.