Markets slipped once more last week, as the shifting monetary policy backdrop continues to negatively affect both equities and bonds. More defensive equity positioning can help during such periods, as can shorter duration positions on the fixed income side. However, global bonds are now officially in a bear market, and have endured their biggest drawdown since 1990 (when Bloomberg started tracking a global index). Within such an environment there are very few hiding places during such short-term movements. However, focusing on longer term returns and sticking with a tried and tested investment process remains solid advice.
Such enduring investment principles are worth discussing with clients on a regular basis, particularly on days such as today where equities are making negative headlines because of gas price movements over the weekend. Gazprom announced on Friday that a technical fault would extend the closure of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. It is hard not to see this as anything but pressure being applied because of the G7 proposals to put a price cap on Russian oil. Political pressure looks set to mount with the ensuing energy price rises leading to protests across Europe. A Winter of political discontent looks inevitable, the resulting impact on investment markets is less clear.
If you have any questions, please do get in touch.
Weekly Investment News
Wall Street fell for the third week in a row as the spectre of higher interest rates continues to loom. In general, value orientated companies outperformed growth, and large caps (traditionally more defensive) fared better than smaller companies. There was plenty of data for markets to digest last week. In the US, non-farm payrolls data on Friday showed that the economy added 315,000 jobs, roughly in line with consensus estimates.
The US unemployment rate rose to 3.7% as the participation rate climbed to 62.4%, its highest level in the last two years. With wage growth also slowing to 0.3% over the month the data suggests that the recent inflation spike is bringing more people back into the workforce. Sticking with the US, the ISM manufacturing index rose to 54.2 which brought it back above the key 50-point mark. Consumer confidence rose to 103.2 in August, from 95.3 in July with commentators suggesting the reduction in gasoline prices, a key psychological metric in the US, was behind much of the increase.
In the eurozone, consumer price inflation rose to an all-time high again in August. The YoY inflation figures moved to 9.1%, whilst the core measure (which strips out food and energy prices) accelerated to 4.3%. The eurozone unemployment rate also fell further last month, leaving the headline figure at 6.6%, a record low. Eurozone bonds slipped more than 1% last week as the inflation release increased the chances of a 0.75% interest rate hike when the ECB meets this week. In the UK, inflation exceeded expectations and is now running at more than 10%. The British pound saw its steepest monthly drop versus the US dollar since the Autumn of 2016. Sterling also fell by over 3% against the euro, reducing the returns for eurozone investors in UK assets.
Zurich Life Assurance plc Zurich House, Frascati Road, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, A94 X9Y3, Ireland. Telephone: 01 283 1301 Fax: 01 283 1578 Website: www.zurich.ie Zurich Life Assurance plc is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.