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April 2022 / INVESTMENT INSIGHTS

Global Asset Allocation Viewpoints

Our experts share perspective on market themes and regional trends, plus insights into current portfolio positioning.

Market Perspective

As of 31 March 2022

  • Geopolitical risks and lingering pandemic impacts are weighing on global economic growth expectations while putting upward pressure on already elevated inflation.
  • Despite moderating growth expectations, developed market central banks are expected to advance tightening policies to fend off decades- high inflation, with the US Federal Reserve leading with the most aggressive plans. The European Central Bank signaled an accelerated timeline to ending asset purchases and beginning rate hikes, while the Bank of Japan remains steadfast to policy, taking recent action to keep rates anchored.
  • Emerging market central banks remain biased towards tightening to fend off inflation and defend currencies, while China policy continues moving in the opposite direction to stimulate growth.
  • Key risks to global markets include escalating geopolitical concerns, persistent inflation near already high levels, central bank missteps and the impact of a COVID-19 outbreak in China on global growth and supply chains.

Portfolio Positioning

As of 31 March 2022

  • While valuations are off recent peaks, we remain underweight equities given a moderating growth and earnings outlook amid an active Fed and lingering inflation concerns. Within fixed income, we remain overweight cash.
  • Within equities, we added to real assets-related equities from global equities to provide a hedge should inflationary pressures persist longer than expected given heightened uncertainty.
  • Within fixed income, we moderated our underweight to long-term US Treasuries following recent moves higher in rates to provide portfolio ballast in a risk-off scenario.
  • We continue to favor shorter-duration and higher-yielding sectors through overweights to short-term TIPS, floating rate loans and high yield bonds supported by our still supportive outlook on fundamentals while keeping a cautious eye on liquidity amid higher volatility.

Market Themes

As of 31 March 2022

Beginning of the End?

The more than four-decade bull market for bonds, supported by low inflation and declining rates, that provided a tailwind of price appreciation on top of income, may finally be coming to an end. For bond investors, this is a particularly precarious time given heightened rate sensitivity through extended duration levels and still low yields, providing little income to offset capital losses as rates rise. For the US Federal Reserve, which had enjoyed the luxury of acting aggressively when needed amid multiple crises while not stoking inflation, the tables have turned. Now due to exogenous factors impacting supply—the pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine—inflation has spiked higher, forcing the Fed into a battle that it hasn’t had to fight in decades. The market seems to agree that the Fed will remain steadfast, for now, in its battle against inflation over the course of the year. However, the market is saying the Fed could be lowering rates as soon as the end of next year, meaning bonds may not be out of favor for long.

Fed Funds Rate Projections

As of 31 March 2022

Fed Funds Rate Projections

Source: Bloomberg Finance L.P.
For illustrative purposes only. Actual future outcomes may differ materially.

History Lessons

While the world has been battling to overcome the impacts of a global pandemic not seen in decades, we now face new, heightened challenges that may similarly have precedence with other periods in history. While coronavirus variants have extended supply chain issues and stoked higher inflation, expectations just a few months ago were that these issues would be transient. Unfortunately, the invasion of Ukraine in Europe, the likes not seen since the start of World War II in 1939, have exacerbated inflation risks and economic uncertainty. The narrative today has quickly turned to fears of “stagflation” with comparisons being made to the oil embargo of 1973 in the US that served as a catalyst for runaway inflation, unprecedented rate hikes and a recession. While the world is very different today and some of the challenges are distinct, history can repeat itself. So while stagflation is not our base case, the potential for tail risk events is heightened and warrants caution.

US Consumer Price Index (CPI) YoY

As of 31 March 2022

Source: Bloomberg Finance L.P.
For illustrative purposes only. Actual future outcomes may differ materially.

Regional Backdrop

As of 31 March 2022

 March Positives Negatives
United States
  • Strong corporate and consumer balance sheets
  • Pent-up demand for services and capex
  • Significantly elevated inflation
  • Fed tightening at a rapid pace
  • Supply chain issues constraining economic activity
  • Elevated stock valuations
Europe
  • Fiscal stimulus increasing
  • Equity valuations attractive relative to the US
  • Russia-Ukraine conflict likely to continue to exacerbate energy shortages
  • Industrial production dampened by supply chain challenges and energy shortages
  • Limited long-term catalysts for earnings growth
  • U.S. dollar strength likely to remain a headwind
Developed Asia/Pacific
  • Very attractive equity valuations
  • Improving corporate governance
  • Monetary policy remains accomodative
  • Limited long-term catalysts for earnings growth
  • Global trade remains impacted by supply chain issues, geopolitical uncertainty and COVID-19 restrictions
Emerging Markets
  • Affirmation of China GDP growth targets suggests more supportive policy environment
  • Equity valuations attractive relative to the US
  • COVID-19 outbreak in Asia weighing on economic activity
  • Chinese regulatory actions have impacted investor confidence
  • Global trade remains impacted by supply chain issues, geopolitical uncertainty and COVID-19 restrictions
  • Central bank accommodation is fading

Asset Allocation Committee Positioning

As of 31 March 2022

Asset Allocation Committee Positioning

1For pairwise decisions in style & market capitalization, positioning within boxes represent positioning in the first mentioned asset class relative to the second asset class.
The asset classes across the equity and fixed income markets shown are represented in our Multi-Asset portfolios. Certain style & market capitalization asset classes are represented as pairwise decisions as part of our tactical asset allocation framework.

ADDITIONAL DISCLOSURES:

Certain numbers in this report may not equal stated totals due to rounding.

Source: Unless otherwise stated, all market data are sourced from FactSet. Financial data and analytics provider FactSet. Copyright 2022 FactSet. All Rights Re- served.

“Bloomberg®” and Bloomberg Indices are service marks of Bloomberg Finance L.P. and its affiliates, including Bloomberg Index Services Limited (“BISL”), the admin- istrator of the index (collectively, “Bloomberg”) and have been licensed for use for certain purposes by T. Rowe Price. Bloomberg is not affiliated with T. Rowe Price, and Bloomberg does not approve, endorse, review, or recommend Global Asset Allocation Viewpoints. Bloomberg does not guarantee the timeliness, accurate- ness, or completeness of any data or information relating to Global Asset Allocation Viewpoints.

Key risks –The following risks are materially relevant to the information highlighted in this material:

Even if the asset allocation is exposed to different asset classes in order to diversify the risks, a part of these assets is exposed to specific key risks.

Equity risk – in general, equities involve higher risks than bonds or money market instruments.

ESG and Sustainability risk – May result in a material negative impact on the value of an investment and performance of the portfolio.

Credit risk – a bond or money market security could lose value if the issuer’s financial health deteriorates. Currency risk – changes in currency exchange rates could reduce investment gains or increase investment losses. Default risk – the issuers of certain bonds could become unable to make payments on their bonds.

Emerging markets risk – emerging markets are less established than developed markets and, therefore, involve higher risks.

Foreign investing risk – investing in foreign countries other than the country of domicile can be riskier due to the adverse effects of currency exchange rates; differences in market structure and liquidity, as well as specific country, regional, and economic developments.

Interest rate risk – when interest rates rise, bond values generally fall. This risk is generally greater the longer the maturity of a bond investment and the higher its credit quality.

Real estate investments risk – real estate and related investments can be hurt by any factor that makes an area or individual property less valuable.

Small- and mid-cap risk – stocks of small and mid-size companies can be more volatile than stocks of larger companies.

Style risk – different investment styles typically go in and out of favour depending on market conditions and investor sentiment.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

This material is being furnished for general informational and/or marketing purposes only. The material does not constitute or undertake to give advice of any nature, including fiduciary investment advice, nor is it intended to serve as the primary basis for an investment decision. Prospective investors are recommended to seek independent legal, financial and tax advice before making any investment decision. T. Rowe Price group of companies including T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. and/or its affiliates receive revenue from T. Rowe Price investment products and services. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. The value of an investment and any income from it can go down as well as up. Investors may get back less than the amount invested.

The material does not constitute a distribution, an offer, an invitation, a personal or general recommendation or solicitation to sell or buy any securities in any jurisdiction or to conduct any particular investment activity. The material has not been reviewed by any regulatory authority in any jurisdiction.

Information and opinions presented have been obtained or derived from sources believed to be reliable and current; however, we cannot guarantee the sources' accuracy or completeness. There is no guarantee that any forecasts made will come to pass.

The views contained herein are as of the date noted on the material and are subject to change without notice; these views may differ from those of other T. Rowe Price group companies and/or associates. Under no circumstances should the material, in whole or in part, be copied or redistributed without consent from T. Rowe Price.

The material is not intended for use by persons in jurisdictions which prohibit or restrict the distribution of the material and in certain countries the material is provided upon specific request.

It is not intended for distribution to retail investors in any jurisdiction.  

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