Global Asset Allocation: The View From The UK - May Insights
As of April 30, 2020
Trying to put a price on the stock market in the current environment is extremely challenging. The velocity of the market decline and subsequent recovery are unparalleled, with day‑to‑day price swings that can look more like returns for a full year. Similar to the “P” in price‑to‑earnings measures, the “E” is challenging to pin down as estimating earnings is hampered by uncertainty around the duration of the global shutdown and the postcrisis environment. First‑quarter earnings reports are starting to shed some light, and the broad picture shows a steep decline with S&P 500 earnings down nearly 15%. In this environment, there have been winners and losers, with the technology and communications sectors resilient, while other more cyclical sectors have been hard hit, including energy and industrials. Compared with previous crises, today’s crisis is not normal and the speed of the recovery may not be normal either. What may be very different, though, are the winners and losers, making it ever more important to watch what you’re paying for “normalised” earnings for companies that will likely be facing an abnormal world.
Fed Extinguishing Liquidity Risk, Solvency Smolders
Global central bankers have unleashed unprecedented monetary policies to help offset contracting growth and ease widespread liquidity strains. In the U.S., the Federal Reserve has launched several lending and asset purchase programs that have provided much needed stability within the commercial paper, U.S. Treasury debt, corporate bond, municipal bond, mortgage‑backed, and money market sectors. The most direct support will come through the launch of the Main Street Lending Program under which the Fed is directly providing loans through its network of banks to small and mid‑size businesses that are too large to participate in the Treasury’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). However, these loans will need to be paid back, whereas the PPP lending converts to grants if used directly to fund employee wages. While these actions by the Fed provide much needed liquidity, eventually these businesses must be able to stand on their own. Given the uncertain future for many industries postcrisis, markets are likely to shift their focus to solvency risk, where some companies may not be able to sustain their debt obligations.
First-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates around the world are showing levels of contraction not seen since 2008, with the U.S. slipping 1.2% quarter over quarter (down 4.8% on an annualized basis) and the eurozone down 3.3% quarter over quarter. The steep declines were largely due to the extensive lockdown measures implemented worldwide, which hampered the previously resilient consumer and severely impacted services industries such as entertainment, health care, and food. As bad as these first‑quarter numbers were, the data only reflected economic closures that started around the second week of March, indicating that next quarter’s data will be much worse, with nearly the entire economy impacted by lockdowns in April and significant portions of May. Despite the alarming economic growth, unemployment, and manufacturing data, global stock markets have shrugged off the weakness as temporary in hopes that recovery will not be too far off once economies reopen. With a headline second‑quarter GDP number in the U.S. that could be as low as ‑40%, we’ll see if markets will continue to look through the negative data or begin to react in a different direction.
For a region-by-region overview, download the PDF.
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 written 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.
EEA ex-UK—Unless indicated otherwise this material is issued and approved by T. Rowe Price (Luxembourg) Management S.à r.l. 35 Boulevard du Prince Henri L-1724 Luxembourg which is authorised and regulated by the Luxembourg Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier. For Professional Clients only.
Switzerland—Issued in Switzerland by T. Rowe Price (Switzerland) GmbH, Talstrasse 65, 6th Floor, 8001 Zurich, Switzerland. For Qualified Investors only.
UK—This material is issued and approved by T. Rowe Price International Ltd, 60 Queen Victoria Street, London, EC4N 4TZ which is authorised and regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority. For Professional Clients only.