June 2022 / INVESTMENT INSIGHTS
Global Asset Allocation Viewpoints
Our experts share perspective on market themes and regional trends, plus insights into current portfolio positioning.
As of 31 May 2022
- While global growth is trending lower, recent economic data, especially pertaining to the labor market, has shown resilience amid geopolitical challenges, supply disruption, and reduction of liquidity.
- The U.S. Federal Reserve remains committed to its tightening policy, hinting at a frontloaded path of rate hikes. The European Central Bank (ECB) has telegraphed its plan to end asset purchases and begin raising rates despite a fragile macro backdrop, while the Bank of Japan remains steadfast on its policy of yield curve control.
- Emerging market central banks continue to tighten policy in response to heightened inflation and weak currencies, while China’s policies continue moving in the opposite direction to counter weakening growth caused by zero-COVID policy.
- Key risks to global markets include central bank missteps, lingering inflation, commodity impact of Russia-Ukraine conflict, sharp slowdown in economic data and China balancing growth amid COVID-related lockdowns.
As of 31 May 2022
- While equity valuations are more reasonable after recent declines, we remain cautious on the earnings growth outlook and inflationary impacts on margins supporting our modest underweight. Within fixed income, we remain underweight bonds and overweight cash.
- We continued to add to real assets-related equities, bringing the position to neutral, to provide a hedge should inflationary pressures persist longer, or settle higher, than expected.
- Within fixed income, we moderated our floating rate loans exposure following a period of outperformance. While loans remain attractive, we reinvested profits in emerging market bonds and high yield given more compelling valuations.
- Despite attractive carry from elevated inflation levels, we trimmed our position in short-term Treasury inflation protected securities and added to cash as we expect inflation to moderate from current highs.
- Taking advantage of higher yields, we added to long-term U.S. Treasuries, providing mitigation against heightened global market risks.
As of 31 May 2022
So Far, So Good...
With inflation at multi-decade highs and growth already slowing, investors were rightfully skeptical about the Fed’s ability to aggressively tackle inflation without sending the economy into recession having waited too long. Now two hikes in and messaging frontloading future hikes with 50 basis point moves, recent data suggests the broader economy is largely holding up. Although first- quarter gross domestic product showed the economy surprisingly contracted by 1.5%, it appeared an anomaly due to temporary disruptions in trade and inventories, masking underlying support from consumer and capex spending. And while expected to slow, full year 2022 growth estimates still expect a 2.6% expansion, near pre-covid averages. Inflation too is showing some early signs of cooperating, with recent data suggesting easing in producer prices and wages, giving Fed officials a sigh of relief. While far from out of the woods, with top-line CPI still expected to be near 6% levels at year-end, so far it seems like maybe, just maybe a Fed-driven recession or stagflation are not inevitable.
U.S. GDP & Inflation1
As of 31 May 2022
After more than a decade of outperformance versus value amid years of low economic growth, growth stocks went nearly parabolic during COVID lockdowns as many large-cap technology companies disproportionately benefitted from stay-at-home trends, sending valuations to record levels. That trend abruptly ended at the end of last year and has continued amid a spike higher in interest rates and threats of aggressive Fed tightening to battle multi-decade high inflation. The sharp drawdown in growth stocks has led to more reasonable valuations and the move higher in rates appears to be largely priced in as expectations for economic growth are moderating—historically a time when growth stocks have tended to outperform. While time will tell if this is a pivotal inflection in style back toward growth stocks, they still face near-term challenges on upcoming earnings comparisons and uncertainty around the path of Fed policy. But, for now growth could be due for a spurt higher as many of the tailwinds for value—higher energy prices and rates—may be peaking.
Growth vs. Value2
As of 31 May 2022
As of 31 May 2022
As of 31 May 2022
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 Reserved.
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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.
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