Global Market Overview – January 2022
Some of the trends we saw last year seem to have turned on their head. The past month has been a reminder that sometimes, it really is too good to be true as most developed markets took a beating. The US was the worst hit as the S&P, Dow Jones, and Nasdaq were down 5.3%, 3.3% and 8.9% respectively for the month. The notable exception has been the FTSE 100; unloved throughout the last decade, but suddenly back in demand as energy companies, big banks and airlines found favour once more.
Identifying the exact cause of this selloff is more of an art than a science, but there are a couple of likely culprits. Fears over inflation and tensions in Eastern Europe likely contributed, but the reason the US suffered most was because of the concerns around central bank tightening.
What can we take from it?
Counterintuitively, the past month has been a good reminder that staying invested is the right strategy over the long term. People have been saying that US tech stocks are too expensive for a very long time, but others have been saying that these companies have changed the world and can justify high relative valuations.
Knowing for sure which camp is right is hard, but knowing for sure who will be right and exactly when they will be right is near impossible. Trying to time the market by disinvesting to avoid losses, is a fool’s game. More often than not, you’ll end up wasting effort.
We often talk about our ‘equal-weight bias’, recent events illustrate when this is beneficial. The US is the biggest economy and market in the world and has been one of the hardest hit in the recent drawdown. But the UK market is actually up! Different markets and geographies are all exposed to different risks so rarely move in exactly the same way. By having an equal-weight bias, you are less likely to be hit hard when specific markets go down.
Growth will be stronger than the last decade... Strong consumers, confident businesses and supportive governments mean one thing; stronger growth. The mushy, slow, volatile growth of the last decade will vanish, to be replaced with a more confident and self-sustaining growth cycle.
Inflation will be higher than the last decade… The stronger demand does mean higher inflation too. To be sure this does not mean worryingly high, but higher, nonetheless. This will have huge implications for interest rates and savers need to be ready.
With thanks to Seven Investment Management LLP for their views and market thoughts. RiverPeak Wealth Limited