The Henderson Global Snapshot explores the themes driving markets, the trends to watch, market returns and metrics, and the Multi-Asset Team’s outlook for regions and sectors at quarter end.
The Federal Open Market Committee raised rates in March and continued to signal two more increases by end-2017, despite core inflation – as measured by the personal consumption price index excluding food and energy – remaining stable at 1.8% in February, below its 2% target.
The People’s Bank of China left benchmark lending and deposit rates unchanged but raised its money market intervention rates and withdrew liquidity, resulting in the Shanghai three-month interbank rate firming from 3.3% at end-2016 to 4.4% by end-March.
The unemployment rate fell to a 23-year low of 2.8% in February, while the net percentage of companies reporting a shortage of workers rose further to +26% in the first quarter, according to the Bank of Japan Tankan business survey.
The purchasing managers’ composite output index rose to a six-year high in March, surpassing readings for the US, UK and Japan. Country details showed broad-based strength, with the French index moving above the German level despite political uncertainty.
Real wage squeeze
Consumer price inflation rose to 2.3% in February while annual growth of regular weekly earnings slipped back to 1.9% in January. Consumer financial expectations in March were the weakest since just after the Brexit vote, according to the EU Commission survey.
Portfolio flows into emerging markets rose to $30 billion in March, according to the Institute of International Finance. China attracted funds for the first time since 2014, while the inflow to other markets reached a four-month high.
Soft money growth
Inflation-adjusted money measures slowed sharply in late 2016 / early 2017, suggesting sluggish economic growth over the spring / summer. With fiscal stimulus1 looking less certain, softer economic news may cause markets to question the Fed’s rate-hiking plans.
The 2015-16 capital exodus may be starting to reverse in response to solid economic data and a rising Chinese / US rate spread. The authorities may be reluctant to intervene to hold down the currency for fear of antagonising the US administration.
Faster wage growth?
The ingredients for a wages pick-up are in place: the labour market is tight2, corporate profits are at a record high and inflation is probably bottoming as the drag from yen strength abates. Stronger growth would increase confidence that Japan has escaped deflation.
The unemployment rate is dropping fast and may reach 9.0% by end-2017, close to estimates of the non-inflationary equilibrium rate. Vanishing labour market slack and strong money growth argue for an earlier policy exit by the European Central Bank.
Current account relief
The current account deficit3 narrowed to 2.4% of GDP, a five-year low, in the fourth quarter, reflecting better trade performance and higher overseas income. A sustained turnaround could support sterling despite Brexit uncertainty and a likely economic slowdown.
Brazil / Russia stabilising
Inflation-adjusted money is growing again in Brazil and Russia, signalling an end to recessions. Further interest rate cuts may sustain the monetary turnaround as inflation continues to ease in response to earlier economic weakness and currency recoveries.
1 Fiscal stimulus: an increase in government spending and/or reduction in taxes. 2 Tight labour market: occurs when unemployment is falling and there are more jobs than workers 3 Current account deficit: value of imports are greate than value of exports
Source: Henderson Global Investors at 31 March 2017. These comments are the views of Simon Ward, Henderson Chief Economist, and should not be construed as investment advice. These views may differ from those of other Henderson fund managers.
Source: Thomson Reuters Datastream, Henderson Global Investors, index price returns, as at 31 March 2017.
Note: the TOPIX Index Value and the TOPIX Marks are subject to the proprietary rights owned by the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Inc. and the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Inc. owns all rights and know-how relating to the TOPIX such as calculation, publication and use of the TOPIX Index Value and relating to the TOPIX Marks. No Product is in any way sponsored, endorsed or promoted by the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Source: Thomson Reuters Datastream, Henderson Global Investors' calculations, and IBES (Institutional Brokers' Estimate System) estimates for MSCI Indices as at 31 March
2017. Forecast P/E (price-to-earnings ratio); Forecast EPS (earnings per share)
Source: Bloomberg, economic forecasts, as at 4 April 2017. Forecast GDP = real gross domestic product.
Euro area: EU member states using euro currency (currently 19)
Asia: China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam
BRICs: Brazil, Russia, India, China
World: G10, Eastern Europe & Africa, Asia, Latin America, Middle East
Source: Bloomberg, economic forecasts, as at 4 April 2017. Forecast CPI = consumer price index.
Source: Thomson Reuters Datastream, Henderson Global Investors, as at 31 March 2017.
The above data is intended for illustration purposes only and is not indicative of the historical or future performance or the chances of success of any particular strategy. References made to individual securities should not constitute or form part of any offer or solicitation to issue, sell, subscribe or purchase the security.
Please note the below are the views of the Henderson Multi-Asset Team at quarter end. They do not represent a Henderson house view or the views of individual fund managers and should not be construed as investment advice.
Source: Henderson Global Investors at 31 March 2017. These comments reflect the views of Henderson's Multi Asset Team and should not be construed as investment advice. These views may differ from those of other Henderson fund managers. 1OPEC: Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries
Unless otherwise indicated, the source for all data is Henderson Global Investors. Nothing on this page should be construed as advice. Any reference to individual companies is purely for the purpose of illustration and should not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell or advice in relation to investment, legal or tax matters. Please remember that past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income from it can fall as well as rise and investors may not get back the amount originally invested.