What are markets telling us?

20 May 2022

Anthony Rayner
Premier Miton Macro Thematic Multi Asset Team

The S&P 500 Index has now had six consecutive weeks of declines; the first time this has happened since 2011. However, the sell-off has not been limited to equity.

Until last week, equities and bonds were both selling off. The primary concern for markets was inflationary risk, not a good environment for equities, but certainly not for bonds.

Indeed, the chart below shows that US government bonds are at their most volatile since the Global Financial Crisis, and for a sustained period. The same cannot be said for equities (S&P VOL) and currencies (FX G10 VOL), which have also both had higher volatility of late but nowhere near to the same degree relative to their history.

Equity, bond and currency volatility: US Treasuries experiencing materially higher volatility

Source: Bloomberg, 14.01.2008 – 17.05.2022.

The performance information presented in this document relates to the past. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.

The uncertainty around inflation, and therefore central bank policy, expressed through higher bond yields and higher bond volatility, has led to quite a bit of froth being taken out of equity markets, most notably tech stocks. However, the dynamic is much broader than that, including bitcoin and the like, which are down materially. Meanwhile, corporate bond and emerging market government bond spreads have widened materially, reflecting a broader concern around risk assets.

Price movements in commodities have been more mixed, but for good reason. Copper, noted for its economic sensitivity, has fallen sharply, reflecting a poorer economic growth outlook. Energy, meanwhile, remains close to recent highs, due more to its tighter supply outlook, in large part due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. For similar supply reasons, in part at least, many agricultural commodity prices remain high too.

So, it seems that concerns about inflation have been damaging across assets, with the exception of areas like commodities. However, more recently this dynamic has changed. Last week, for example, we still saw frothy equity and bitcoin continue to be punished but developed government bonds rallied, and defensive equity performed relatively better.

Pulling those more recent asset class moves together, markets are increasingly focusing on recession risk, rather than inflation risk. We believe there is some logic in focusing on recession risk, with central banks raising rates and China’s draconian lockdowns hurting the world’s second largest economy. However, markets seem to increasingly believe that US inflation is peaking and that inflation will move back to very low single digit levels.

We have some sympathy that inflation will peak in the shorter term but are less convinced that inflation will return to where it was pre-Covid. Too many dynamics have changed, not least, a trend for de-globalisation rather than globalisation.

We think inflation and recession risk remain elevated. Importantly, whether or not the US Federal Reserve can manage a soft landing will depend on how persistent inflationary pressures are. So, we remain focused on inflation.

Our broad exposure across multiple asset classes, for example including energy and agricultural commodities, has provided a decent balance to our portfolios this year, including during the recent sell-off.

More recently, we have adjusted our equity sector exposures, reflecting our view that whilst inflation risk remains elevated, recession risk has increased. For example, we have significantly reduced our exposures to cyclical areas like banks, and reduced exposures to materials, industrials and consumer discretionary. At the same time, we have been adding to consumer staples and utilities.

How would you rate the information in this article?

Click on a star to rate it.

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you.

Write your comments here:

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Risks

The value of stock market investments will fluctuate, and investors may not get back the original amount invested.

Government and corporate bonds generally offer a fixed level of interest to investors, so their value can be affected by changes in interest rates. When central bank interest rates fall, investors may be prepared to pay more for bonds and bond prices tend to rise. If interest rates rise, bonds may be less valuable to investors and their prices can fall.

Commodity prices can fall and rise sharply depending on supply and demand, the economic background and financial market conditions. Exposure will never be direct to any commodity.

Higher inflation can lead to some investments falling in value, particularly those with a fixed level of interest, for example government bonds and corporate bonds.

Forecasts are not reliable indicators of future returns.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

For Investment Professionals only. Not for onward distribution. No other persons should rely on any information contained within this document.

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained within this document, we regret that we cannot accept responsibility for any omissions or errors. The information given and opinions expressed are subject to change and should not be interpreted as investment advice.

All data is sourced to Premier Miton unless otherwise stated. Persons who do not have professional experience in matters relating to investments should not rely on the content of this document.

Source for US inflation forecasts: Bloomberg, as at 20.05.2022.

For your protection, calls may be monitored and recorded for training and quality assurance purposes.

Issued by Premier Miton Investors. Premier Portfolio Managers Limited is registered in England no. 01235867. Premier Fund Managers Limited is registered in England no. 02274227. Both companies are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and are members of the ‘Premier Miton Investors’ marketing group and subsidiaries of Premier Miton Group plc (registered in England no. 06306664). Registered office: Eastgate Court, High Street, Guildford, Surrey GU1 3DE.

006699/200522

Stay up to date

Sign up to receive the latest articles straight to your inbox

Disclaimer

This section of the website and the content it contains is for retail clients only and by persons who are resident in the United Kingdom [who are not US persons]. Professional advisers should refer to the Professional Advisers site.

The content of the pages of this website is for your general information only. It, and the products and services described within it, are subject to change without notice. We shall not be liable to you, or any third party, for any amendment, modification, suspension or discontinuance of any product or service described on our website. Neither we, nor any third parties, provide any warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy, timeliness, performance, completeness or appropriateness of the information and materials made available on this website.

You acknowledge that such information may contain inaccuracies or errors and we expressly exclude liability for any such inaccuracies or errors to the fullest extent permitted by law. Your use of any information or materials is entirely at your own risk, for which we shall not be liable.

The information contained on this website does not constitute an offer or solicitation to sell or purchase shares in the funds or portfolios or to provide you with other products or services. Any application or investment must only be made on the basis of the relevant documentation of the investment, such as, for example, terms and conditions. The information on this website does not constitute any investment, tax, legal or other advice. Persons who do not have professional experience in matters relating to investments should always consult with an independent financial adviser before making an investment decision. Any opinion expressed on individual funds, services or products represent the views of the individual at the time of preparation and should not be interpreted as a personal recommendation to buy or sell or otherwise trade all or any of the investments that may be referred to.

Website terms of use: Please ensure you have read and accept the full 'website terms of use' before continuing.

Read the full 'website terms of use' >

Disclaimer

This section of the website and the content it contains is for professional financial advisers only and should not be relied upon, or circulated to, retail clients. Retail clients should refer to the Private Investor's site.

The content of the pages of this website is for your general information and use only. It, and the products and services described within it, are subject to change without notice. We shall not be liable to you, or any third party, for any amendment, modification, suspension or discontinuance of any product or service described on our website. Neither we, nor any third parties, provide any warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy, timeliness, performance, completeness or appropriateness of the information and materials made available on this website.

You acknowledge that such information may contain inaccuracies or errors and we expressly exclude liability for any such inaccuracies or errors to the fullest extent permitted by law. Your use of any information or materials is entirely at your own risk, for which we shall not be liable.

The information contained on this website does not constitute an offer or solicitation to sell shares in the funds or portfolio or to provide you with other products or services. Any application or investment must only be made on the basis of the relevant documentation of the investment, such as, for example, terms and conditions. The information on this website does not constitute any investment, tax, legal or other advice. Persons who do not have professional experience in matters relating to investments should always consult with an independent financial adviser before making an investment decision. Any opinion expressed on individual funds, services or products, represent the views of the individual at the time of preparation and should not be interpreted as a personal recommendation to buy or sell or otherwise trade all or any of the investments that may be referred to.

Website terms of use: Please ensure you have read and accept the full 'website terms of use' before continuing.

Read the full 'website terms of use' >

The content you are trying to access is intended for investment professionals only.

Please use the button below to return to the hompage.

Disclaimer

This section of the website and the content it contains is for retail clients only and by persons who are resident in the United Kingdom [who are not US persons]. Professional advisers should refer to the Professional Advisers site.

The content of the pages of this website is for your general information only. It, and the products and services described within it, are subject to change without notice. We shall not be liable to you, or any third party, for any amendment, modification, suspension or discontinuance of any product or service described on our website. Neither we, nor any third parties, provide any warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy, timeliness, performance, completeness or appropriateness of the information and materials made available on this website.

You acknowledge that such information may contain inaccuracies or errors and we expressly exclude liability for any such inaccuracies or errors to the fullest extent permitted by law. Your use of any information or materials is entirely at your own risk, for which we shall not be liable.

The information contained on this website does not constitute an offer or solicitation to sell or purchase shares in the funds or portfolios or to provide you with other products or services. Any application or investment must only be made on the basis of the relevant documentation of the investment, such as, for example, terms and conditions. The information on this website does not constitute any investment, tax, legal or other advice. Persons who do not have professional experience in matters relating to investments should always consult with an independent financial adviser before making an investment decision. Any opinion expressed on individual funds, services or products represent the views of the individual at the time of preparation and should not be interpreted as a personal recommendation to buy or sell or otherwise trade all or any of the investments that may be referred to.

Website terms of use: Please ensure you have read and accept the full 'website terms of use' before continuing.

Read the full 'website terms of use' >

Disclaimer

This section of the website and the content it contains is for professional financial advisers only and should not be relied upon, or circulated to, retail clients. Retail clients should refer to the Private Investor's site.

The content of the pages of this website is for your general information and use only. It, and the products and services described within it, are subject to change without notice. We shall not be liable to you, or any third party, for any amendment, modification, suspension or discontinuance of any product or service described on our website. Neither we, nor any third parties, provide any warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy, timeliness, performance, completeness or appropriateness of the information and materials made available on this website.

You acknowledge that such information may contain inaccuracies or errors and we expressly exclude liability for any such inaccuracies or errors to the fullest extent permitted by law. Your use of any information or materials is entirely at your own risk, for which we shall not be liable.

The information contained on this website does not constitute an offer or solicitation to sell shares in the funds or portfolio or to provide you with other products or services. Any application or investment must only be made on the basis of the relevant documentation of the investment, such as, for example, terms and conditions. The information on this website does not constitute any investment, tax, legal or other advice. Persons who do not have professional experience in matters relating to investments should always consult with an independent financial adviser before making an investment decision. Any opinion expressed on individual funds, services or products, represent the views of the individual at the time of preparation and should not be interpreted as a personal recommendation to buy or sell or otherwise trade all or any of the investments that may be referred to.

Website terms of use: Please ensure you have read and accept the full 'website terms of use' before continuing.

Read the full 'website terms of use' >