Harbour Outlook: Stagflation risk, real rates & the land(s) down under
- The MSCI All Country World (global shares) Index rose +2.4% in NZD hedged terms in March and, with the New Zealand dollar strengthening in the past month, the same Index fell -0.6% in NZD terms over the month.
- The New Zealand equity market (S&P/NZX 50 Gross with imputation) finished the month up 1.1%, whilst the Australian equity market (S&P ASX 200) rose 6.9% in AUD terms and 7.6% in NZD terms.
- Prompted by shifts towards faster rate hikes from offshore central banks and combined with large mortgage-based hedging flows domestically, market interest rates pushed relentlessly higher through the month, with the New Zealand 10-year Government bond yield ending at 3.2%, an increase of 0.5%.
- Potential easing of the conflict in Europe and a clearer path for US Federal Reserve (Fed) interest rate increases saw equity markets recover through March; while production disruption and Russian sanction constraints contributed to an increase in commodity prices with the price of oil increasing another 7% over the month.
Harbour Outlook: Ukraine invasion heightens already elevated volatility
- The MSCI All Country World (global shares) Index fell -2.5% in NZD hedged terms in February and, with the New Zealand dollar strengthening in the past month, the same Index fell -5.5% in NZD terms over the month.
- The New Zealand equity market (S&P/NZX 50 Gross with imputation) finished the month up 0.75%, whilst the Australian equity market (S&P ASX 200) rose 2.1% in both AUD and NZD terms.
- The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) delivered a hawkish statement along with a 25bp hike to 1.00% in February, retaining the option to move in 50bp increments and revising its OCR forecasts higher than implied by market pricing.
- Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has become a humanitarian disaster. The geopolitical environment is now vastly changed with a wide range of potential outcomes. It has also added further upward pressure to global energy prices and inflation.
Harbour Outlook: Down by the elevator, up by the stairs?
- The MSCI All Country World (global shares) Index fell -4.9% in USD in January, and with the New Zealand dollar weakening in the past month, the same Index fell -0.9% in NZD terms over the month.
- The New Zealand equity market (S&P/NZX 50 Gross with imputation) finished the month down ‑8.8%, whilst the Australian equity market (S&P ASX 200) fell -6.4% over the month (-5.3% in NZ dollar terms).
- The New Zealand 10-year bond yield rose to 2.60% from 2.39% during January, while the US 10‑year bond yield rose from 1.51% to 1.78%. These moves led to global bond indices declining over the period.
- A sharp lift in interest rate expectations and strong inflation prints contributed to a broad ‘risk off’ move in markets. The pricing of high growth stocks was hit hard, albeit hardly any company was spared by the broad market sell-off.
Uncertainty around hawkish central banks has led to volatility
- Global equity markets were strong in 2021 benefiting from accommodative central banks and record earnings growth to spur on returns
- Loose monetary and fiscal policy, implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to an increase in inflation, which central banks now need to combat
- Uncertainty around the exact extent of future interest rate changes has led to a volatile start to 2022 in markets
Harbour Outlook: Tricky transition favours stock picking
- The MSCI All Country World (global shares) Index rose 4.0% in USD in December, taking the three-month return to 6.7%. The same Index rose 3.1% in NZD terms over the month, and with the New Zealand dollar weakening in the past quarter, the three-month return in NZD was stronger at 7.5%.
- The New Zealand 10-year bond yield dropped to 2.39% from 2.49% during December, while the US 10‑year bond yield rose from 1.44% to 1.51%. The move in New Zealand yields contributed to positive performance across domestic bond indices, whilst global indices fell.
- Interest rate yield curves flattened over December as central banks globally (the Reserve Bank of Australia being the laggard) acknowledged inflation may be more than transitory and began lifting official rates. At the same time, ongoing shortages and maturing of the economic recovery contributed to the global equity market earnings revision upgrade ratio slowing, to be only slightly positive. This lift in rates and slowing earnings revisions is likely to contribute to a lift in equity market volatility.
Top 10 risks (and opportunities) for 2022
Looking back on 2021 it is interesting to ponder how it will go down in history. Could it be seen as the year that inflation had a momentary resurgence before fading back into the background, or the year that entered us into a new normal? Could it be seen as the year that the 2021 United Nations Climate Change conference (COP26) brought about meaningful climate change mitigation? Could it be seen as the year that sent Chinese stocks into a bear market or the year that provided the buying opportunity of a generation?READ MORE
Harbour Outlook: Push and pull factors dictate equity returns
- The MSCI All Country World (global shares) Index fell -2.5% in USD in November, taking the 3-month return to -2.0%. Returns in NZD were positive due to a weakening domestic currency, delivering 2.9% in November whilst the 3-month return was 2.0%.
- Global equity markets fell materially on the combination of Omicron COVID variant headlines, the challenges of northern hemisphere lockdowns and the likely upward trajectory of interest rates following strong inflation data.
- While the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) raised the official cash rate (OCR) by 0.25%, their accompanying commentary was more balanced, reducing the risk of aggressive monetary policy tightening.
- Globally bond yields fell on news of the Omicron variant; the New Zealand 10-year bond yield drew back to 2.48% from 2.63%, while the US 10-year bond yield fell from 1.55% to 1.44%. This contributed to positive performance across bond indices.
Harbour Outlook: Earnings surprises support equity returns
- The MSCI All Country World (global shares) Index rose 5.0% in USD in October, lifting the 3-month return to +2.9%. Returns in NZD were more modest, up 1.3% for the month and 0.7% over the past three months.
- October brought a strong earnings season in the US. At the time of writing, 440 companies in the S&P 500 had reported results with 360 companies (82%) beating earnings estimates, compared to a long-run quarterly average of 66% since 1994.
- An emerging trend is that companies with pricing power that have been able to weather supply side constraints have been able to significantly grow profits, beating expectations. We think this trend will selectively continue.
- Bond yields continued to rise through October; the New Zealand 10-year bond yield increased sharply by 0.54% to 2.63%, while the US 10-year bond yield climbed a more modest 0.06% to 1.55%. This contributed to declines for major New Zealand and global bond indices.
Harbour Outlook: Markets face a wall of worry
- The MSCI All Country World (global shares) Index fell 4.3% (in USD) in September, though was down a more modest 1.4% over the quarter.
- The news that one of China’s largest property developers, Evergrande, was facing imminent default caused jitters within the market, with many worried about potential contagion. Evergrande’s troubles came to the forefront following tighter restrictions on property developers’ balance sheets.
- Broader Chinese economic momentum has continued to stall with Beijing prioritising structural reforms over growth.
- Bond yields rose over the month, the New Zealand 10-year bond yield increased by 0.27% to 2.09%, while the US 10-year bond yield climbed 0.18% to 1.49%. This contributed to declines for major New Zealand and global bond indices.
Harbour Outlook: Delta fails to dampen equity markets
- The MSCI All Country World (global shares) Index rose 2.4% (in USD) in August, buoyed by positive earnings momentum and a more dovish than expected US Federal Reserve.
- The New Zealand earnings season was strong with beats outnumbering misses 2 to 1. This helped drive a strong 5% return for the S&P/NZX 50 index over the month.
- Chinese economic momentum looks to have stalled in recent months. Both Caixin and broader PMIs missed consensus estimates during the month, with the non-manufacturing side of the economy particularly weak.
- The outbreak of COVID-19 in the community scuppered the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s (RBNZ) plans of a rate rise in August. The tone of the RBNZ remains hawkish which saw bond yields rise across all maturities during August. This caused market returns to be negative with the Bloomberg NZ Bond Composite 0+Yr Index returning -1.0% over the month.