WeeklyWatch – Global markets react to rumours of peak inflation

29 November 2022

Stock Take

Is falling inflation on the horizon?

Last week, equity markets showed a positive trend as investors were given some room for optimism regarding the future of the world economy.

The fall in prices from COVID-19-related peaks can be seen in recent data for factory gate costs and shipping rates. One of the main factors contributing to this year’s high inflation has been constrained supply chains, so if they start to loosen up, inflation may start to decline as well.

For example, Capital Economics estimated that stable shipping costs would result in a 0.3% reduction in the overall level of inflation in 2023 (this is considering 2023 inflation will be calculated against the current 2022 levels which are already high). However, the current decline in shipping rates could prevent inflation from rising by 0.5%.

Chinese equities increase despite new COVID-19 restrictions

Oil prices fell for the third week in a row as the mood remained negative due to growing demand worries regarding China, which only furthered the sense that inflation may have peaked.

China, the world’s largest importer of oil, had record daily COVID-19 cases over the last week, which resulted in the reinstatement of tight restrictions for a number of important cities across the country. This has raised worries that there may be another slowdown in Chinese economic growth, which would be an additional hit to worldwide recessionary worries and oil demand.

In the past, these lockdowns would have harmed Chinese stocks, but last week, the Shanghai SE Composite saw a small increase (0.14%). Despite additional lockdowns due to COVID-19, Chinese stocks continue to keep their value and indications of a wider economic slowdown may indicate that a significant portion of this bad news has already been reflected in their prices.

This notion will likely be challenged as the week goes on in light of anti-lockdown protests that took place over the weekend in major cities all around the nation.

All eyes on US and European central banks

Eyes have shifted to central banks to see how they will respond as inflationary pressures start to ease. The majority of 2022 was devoted to hiking interest rates from their COVID-19 lows by the US and European central banks.

The US Federal Reserve has set the standard, raising its central rate repeatedly by 0.75% over the year. However last week, the Fed hinted that it might be time to slow the pace soon. According to minutes released last week, a 0.5% hike could now be expected next month. Global equity markets were lifted as a result.

The US had a shortened trading week due to the Thanksgiving holiday last week. But markets remained busy for most of the week, and saw the S&P 500 increase by 1.5% to close the week above the 4,000 mark for the first time since September. The NASDAQ also increased by 0.7%.

This optimistic outlook extended its reach to Europe, where the FTSE 100 and the MSCI Europe (excl. UK) both saw gains of 1.37% and 1.43%, respectively. The markets will be closely monitoring the release of European inflation data this coming week.

Should markets prepare for disappointment?

Even while investor sentiment is improving, it’s crucial to keep a realistic perspective. According to David Bowers of Absolute Insight:

“Equity gains in recent weeks suggest investors believe a shift from rapid tightening (0.75% per meeting) to a slower pace (0.50%), may soon signal a Fed pivot. We don’t think that is the case. The real pivot comes, on the most generous interpretation, when rates stop rising, and more realistically, only once the Fed starts cutting rates. Divining precise historical pivot points is something of a ‘dark art’.”

In the same vein, Mark Dowding, Chief Investment Officer at Bluebay, warned:

“We ourselves are nervous that a more dovish outlook has been priced prematurely and with financial conditions noticeably easier than they were before the time of the last Fed meeting, when they hiked by 0.75%, there is a risk that markets could be disappointed by the FOMC into the end of the year.”

Wealth Check

UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt recognised that the country is currently experiencing a recession during his Autumn Statement. For those trying to build or maintain their wealth under the current circumstances, advice is crucial.

Talking to your financial adviser is always a smart idea, no matter what’s happening in the wider world, but it becomes even more important during a recession. When investors see the markets turn into rollercoasters, it’s easy to react hastily and make decisions that could ultimately jeopardise their long-term plans.

How can we manage through a recession in 2023?

Senior Propositions Manager at St. James’s Place, Tony Clark, says:

“You have to look at how you will achieve your long-term goals and think about how you overcome both of these short-term and long-term needs. “It’s important to think about time in the market, not timing the market, and understand that long-term investing isn’t the preserve of the wealthy. What tends to lead to success is having a clear idea of your goals, and building a focused plan, so you know how to achieve what you want.

“One important thing to remember is that we’ve seen crises before. While they’re uncomfortable at the time, we get through them. How you can do that will largely depend on your personal circumstances.”

In a higher-interest-rate and higher-inflation environment, it’s a good idea to reduce any debt you have (including expensive credit-card debt) and increase your emergency savings, if possible.

Even during a recession, market volatility can be advantageous if you have money to invest. Falling stock prices can be considered a ‘sale’, but trying to predict the bottom of the market is rarely a wise move. It makes the most sense to invest your money in the market.

Recessions are unsettling for everyone, but with the right advice and by staying focused on your long-term goals, you should be able to weather any impending financial storms. Get in touch to speak to a financial adviser and learn how we can help.

The value of an investment with St. James’s Place will be directly linked to the performance of the funds you select and the value can therefore go down as well as up. You may get back less than you invested.

The Last Word

“I believe that for politicians as a whole, we don’t come across as human enough.”

Matt Hancock speaking after finishing third in the latest series of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.

Bluebay is a fund manager for St. James’s Place.

The information contained is correct as at the date of the article. The information contained does not constitute investment advice and is not intended to state, indicate or imply that current or past results are indicative of future results or expectations. Where the opinions of third parties are offered, these may not necessarily reflect those of St. James’s Place.

Source: London Stock Exchange Group plc and its group undertakings (collectively, the “LSE Group”). ©LSE Group 2022. FTSE Russell is a trading name of certain of the LSE Group companies.

“FTSE Russell®” is a trademark of the relevant LSE Group companies and is used by any other LSE Group company under license. All rights in the FTSE Russell indexes or data vest in the relevant LSE Group company which owns the index or the data. Neither LSE Group nor its licensors accept any liability for any errors or omissions in the indexes or data and no party may rely on any indexes or data contained in this communication. No further distribution of data from the LSE Group is permitted without the relevant LSE Group company’s express written consent. The LSE Group does not promote, sponsor or endorse the content of this communication.

© S&P Dow Jones LLC 2022; all rights reserved.

Source: MSCI. MSCI makes no express or implied warranties or representations and shall have no liability whatsoever with respect to any MSCI data contained herein. The MSCI data may not be further redistributed or used as a basis for other indices or any securities or financial products. This report is not approved, endorsed, reviewed or produced by MSCI. None of the MSCI data is intended to constitute investment advice or a recommendation to make (or refrain from making) any kind of investment decision and may not be relied on as such.

SJP Approved 29/11/2022