Global market volatility
The past few weeks have seen increased volatility and sell offs across global risk markets. This has been increasingly impacting emerging markets, where growing concerns over the economic slowdown in China have put downward pressure on emerging markets equities and commodity markets.
This short article provided by Russell Investments provides a further insight into what’s causing the sell-off and most importantly, what investors should expect.
Background – What’s happened in global markets in recent weeks?
The past few weeks have seen increased volatility and sell offs across global risk markets, such as share markets. This development has particularly impacted emerging markets and currencies, where growing concerns over the economic slowdown in China have put downward pressure on commodity markets, emerging market equities, and caused a global ‘flight to quality’ 1.
In the developed markets, the Russell 1000 index (US shares) is down 6.3% month-to-date, and European equities have now fallen a meaningful 15% from their highs of April 2015 2. In the Asia-Pacific region, we are seeing China A shares trading 35% 3 below their 2015 highs (up 150% in the 12 months ending mid-June 2015); Australian shares are down 15% on the same basis; and New Zealand shares are down just on 5% 4.
However, while markets are presently undergoing a bout of eye-catching weakness, the world economy remains in reasonable shape. The US, European and Japanese economies are all in recovery mode and China, while slowing, is still likely growing at over 5% in real terms, underpinned by a range of stimulatory policies.
Areas of true recession – Russia and Brazil are the standouts in this regard due to both lower GDP and currencies 5 – are too small in our view to drag down the entire global economy. Meanwhile, growth in Australia and New Zealand is being held back by a relentless down-draught in commodity prices. Even in this region, however, falls in the Australian and NZ dollars, together with encouraging monetary policies from the Reserve Banks, are providing a cushion to maintain acceptable growth rates.
Key driver of global market volatility: The Chinese market’s adjustment period
It has been apparent that the Chinese economy is going through a difficult adjustment period. Transitioning from a global manufacturing powerhouse to a consumer-led growth model does not happen overnight. Recent turbulence in the China A-share market (SEE PREVIOUS ARTICLE), typically the market which domestic Chinese investors use for investments, a modest devaluation of the Chinese Renminbi’s exchange rate, and disappointing Chinese data on exports and industrial activity have all raised concerns that a ‘hard landing’ is underway.
Russell Investments’ perspective: It could be a bumpy ride, as global markets wait on the US Federal Reserve
In Russell Investment’s most recent Global Market Outlook, their investment strategy team highlighted that market volatility was likely to pick up as we moved closer to the first rate hike from the US Federal Reserve. They maintain a neutral strategic preference for shares versus bonds, and be watching the situation closely for appropriate risk management strategies and potential opportunities in portfolios.
China: Expect continued short-term volatility, but longer-term growth.
Investors are likely to see continued pockets of turbulence in China, its Asian trading partners, and commodity prices, and should remain cautious on these markets in the near-term, given the broader economic headwinds.
While downside risks have clearly escalated, Russell does not expect an uncontrolled deceleration of the Chinese economy. With over $3 trillion in reserves, the Chinese government has both the ability and willingness to cushion its economy. In addition, recent high frequency indicators on housing prices and retail sales have shown tentative signs of stabilisation.
US: Healthy growth expected, but the timing of the Fed’s interest rate hike is more uncertain
In the United States, international risks and the dis-inflationary impacts from declining commodity prices complicate the Federal Reserve’s looming decision to raise interest rates.
Russell still expect Fed liftoff in September, but it’s now a very close call (roughly 55% odds) whether or not a raise will happen at that time. Importantly, that liftoff decision would be predicated on improving US economic conditions. US employment growth remains robust and the broader economy has re-accelerated after a slow start to 2015. Economists continue to expect healthy US real GDP growth of 2.5-3% over the next 12 months, which should help push the global economy forward.
Europe: We expect continued recovery, given strong fundamentals
European financial markets have faced significant downward pressure in recent weeks. But the domestic euro zone economy continues to improve, and boosts from a cheaper exchange rate, lower oil prices, aggressive monetary policy, and attractive relative valuations, provide the building blocks for our continued expectation of strong performance in this market over the next 12 months. Russell are closely monitoring the situation for potential opportunities in this market given the strong fundamentals.
Australia and New Zealand: A bumpy road to recovery with an end to the resources boom
The overarching challenge for the Australian and New Zealand economies, and for their associated share markets, is an end to the resources boom. This can be seen in the plunging prices of bulk commodities, such as iron ore and coal (Australia) and of agricultural commodities such as milk and timber (New Zealand).
However, economic growth rates in the order of 2.5% in these countries still compare favourably with growth in recovery-mode regions such as the eurozone, Japan, and even the US.
Weaker commodity prices are not all bad news – they are driving currency weakness, which is proving to help tourism and import-competing industries; and they are keeping inflation low, thereby giving the Reserve Banks of both countries scope to cut interest rates further, if required.
The one silver lining within markets is the net yield on Australian shares now stands at 5.1%, which is twice that of interest-bearing alternatives such as term deposits.
What should you do with your investments?
Markets rise and fall, particularly over the short term. If you’re a long-term investor, it’s best to avoid knee-jerk reactions at the risk of ‘locking in your losses’— because you don’t truly feel the pain of market declines until you sell investments at a low.
Sometimes, short-term volatility provides good buying opportunities and portfolio reviews are an integral part of building long term wealth.
As always, the team at Adviser fp is here to answer any queries or concerns you may have in relation to market volatility and how we attempt to manage portfolio risks through diversification. If you want to discuss your specific situation, please don’t hesitate to contact us immediately.
1 A ‘flight to quality’ occurs when investors move their money to lower risk investments—like cash or government bonds—even though such investments typically offer lower returns.
2 Sources: Equity market returns are sourced from Thomson Reuters Datastream as at 21 August 2015. European equities are proxied by the Euro Stoxx 50 price index.
3 As at 24 August.
4 Sources: Australian shares (S&P ASX 200) and NZ shares (S&P NZX All Index). Data through 24 August 2015.
5 Russian GDP is down 2% from 1 year ago and the rouble is down 20% since May 2015. Brazilian GDP is down 1.6% from 1 year ago, with the Real declining by one third.
Information issued and provided by Russell Investment Management Ltd ABN 53 068 338 974, AFS Licence 247185 (“RIM”). This document provides general information only and has not been prepared having regard to your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before making an investment decision, you need to consider whether this information is appropriate to your objectives, financial situation and needs. This information has been compiled from sources considered to be reliable, but is not guaranteed. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Copyright 2015. Russell Investments. All rights reserved.