May 2021 / MARKET OUTLOOK
Global Asset Allocation: May Insights
Discover the latest global market themes
1. Market Perspective
Global economic growth is expected to begin peaking in the coming quarters as the impacts of economic reopening and fiscal stimulus are realised.
Global inflation expectations are likely to trend higher as the consumer demand surge is met with signs of supply shortages and as the Fed promises to keep a zero interest rate policy until the labour market rebounds.
Asian and European economies should benefit amid the recovery given their higher cyclical exposures, although recent resurgence in coronavirus cases in major Asian economies is a growing concern.
Key risks to global markets include the resurgence in coronavirus cases, pace of vaccinations, rising inflation, geopolitical concerns, and potential for higher taxes as countries pivot to funding recovery costs.
2. Portfolio Positioning
We increased our underweight in equities relative to bonds and cash as the risk/reward profile looks less compelling for equities after a strong rebound from March 2020 lows. Equities could be vulnerable to potential setbacks in the recovery, fading policy support and higher taxes.
We increased the overweight of euro versus the US dollar. The recent dollar weakness should continue as the US policy stance remains very loose and the European re-opening accelerates in the spring. Europe is also a major beneficiary of the current global manufacturing boom.
Within equities, we are further tilting into value globally, based on more attractive relative valuations and expectations for cyclical companies to continue to benefit from the improvement in growth from a recovering global economy—bolstered by fiscal stimulus in the US, increasing commodity prices and higher interest rates.
3. Market Themes
As investors grew more optimistic late last year about the global economic recovery, small-cap stocks took off with a parabolic snapback, up over 100% since the lows of last March. While smaller companies tend to lead early in an economic recovery given their higher sensitivity to growth, the fast and furious pace of performance stands out. Meanwhile, cyclically oriented value stocks, which are also highly reliant on the trajectory of economic growth, have just begun to make up ground from the sell-off. While smaller companies may continue to benefit from reopening and stimulus in the US, a lot of the outperformance may be behind small-caps, while value stocks are likely to continue to benefit from the recovery, stimulus, higher rates and the potential for infrastructure spending. After nearly a decade of underperformance, perhaps this cyclical rally may be enough for value to close the gap versus growth stocks.
A renewed surge in coronavirus cases across several emerging markets (EM) countries—including India, Brazil, and Argentina—is weighing heavily on these economies as they struggle with insufficient medical infrastructure and access to vaccines. In addition, higher interest rates, rising inflation, a strengthening US dollar, and moderating growth in China have investors concerned about emerging markets prospects. EM have lagged developed markets (DM) year‑to‑date and with much of the economic recovery appearing priced into many DMs emerging markets may have more room to advance as the global recovery takes hold. With commodity prices still on the rise, expectations for a weaker US dollar, and a continued dovish stance from the Fed, we think emerging markets may be in a strong position to rebound—assuming that they can navigate the crosscurrents.
For a region-by-region overview, see the full report (PDF).
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