Global equities closed the month lower due to continued trade tensions and concerns of a global slowdown in growth. Although volatility has picked up, there hasn’t been any significant deterioration of fundamental conditions. Volatility in a market cycle is normal and expected; while we ideally don’t want too much volatility as markets advance, our minds can be eased knowing that markets have climbed over different walls of worry at different periods in time.
After a strong first quarter, markets continued their rally which has been driven by more accommodative central banks, expectations of a recovery in Chinese growth, and improving trade conditions.
Amid week after week of gains at the start of 2019, we have largely recovered from the lows experienced in Q4 2018. March saw the return of some volatility due to mixed economic data as well as an important development in the bond market.
The 2019 federal budget was unveiled March 19th by Finance Minister Bill Morneau. Key elements included housing affordability measures for first time home buyers, post- secondary student financing and debt repayment, professional development training opportunities, and securing your retirement. Keep in mind this is a pre-election budget and there are elements sprinkled in it for everyone. Funding for many of the commitments will only start to kick in after October’s election, giving voters the chance to weigh in their thoughts at the ballot box.
The month of February has been a continuation of what we saw throughout January, with gains being registered on major indices week after week.
Global equity markets made an impressive comeback in January after a poor end to 2018. Equities were boosted by signals from the US Federal Reserve that they will be more patient with the path of future rate hikes amid mixed global economic data. Emerging economies continued their rally fueled by a less hawkish sentiment across global central banks, the S&P/TSX hit its highest level since October, and the Canadian dollar strengthened relative to its US counterpart. We also saw signs of progress on the US-China trade negotiations.
Looking back over the past year, markets had a strong start, hit record highs, and were ultimately bookended by a historically weak December, closing the year in the red. Themes such as the central bank interest rate tightening, tariff wars, global growth concerns, and even a twitter account certainly contributed to the volatility and the sell-off we experienced in equities during 2018.
As on trend for 2018, geopolitical events dominated market movement throughout November. The Democrats took control of the House and the Republicans gained on their majority in the Senate. As a result, it is unlikely that Republicans will be able to extend their fiscal stimulus as a method to further grow the economy.
After three quarters of mostly slow and steady growth, October saw a correction in global financial markets with volatility doubling from its September levels. The S&P 500 fell by 6.8%, emerging markets were down 5.7% in CAD terms, while Canada was the biggest loser down 7.4%. Despite the risk averse sentiment, fixed income markets were also down by month end due to rising interest rates.
In this month’s market update we discuss September’s global economic and market highlights, which includes an update on financial markets, the global trade situation, the developing narrative in emerging markets, and a particularly interesting 10-year anniversary of note.
Throughout September, we saw developed markets end the month on a positive note. Specifically, the Dow and S&P 500 set new highs, the Nikkei closed at its highest level since February, and global developed markets, including Canada closed even higher. On the other hand, emerging markets posted a negative month due to ongoing trade and credit concerns, as did the bond market with central banks continuing to raise interest rates.