Funds Insider - Opening the door to funds

Register free for our breaking news email alerts with analysis and cutting edge commentary from our award winning team. Registration only takes a minute.

Stock market fireworks deliver a happy New Year

1 Comment
Stock market fireworks deliver a happy New Year

Stock markets have kicked off the year in explosive fashion, with a full-throttle rally as bulls finally found their footing after a grim end to 2018.

Our exclusive Accumulator data table, back from a prolonged Christmas break, tells both stories.

The finally tally for major global stock markets in 2018 is awash with red. Global stock markets were down 2.3% in pound terms, with Europe, Asia and emerging markets the worst off.

Of the few major stock markets to deliver a positive sterling return, the US did so only due to dollar strength, Brazil was up after the election of far right president Jair Bolsonaro, India was helped by the collapse in the oil price and Russia delivered 3.8%.

But after the Red October sell-off and a grim December that emphatically failed to deliver on hopes of a Santa rally, stock markets appear to have regained some poise in the first trading days of 2019.

Only oil-importing India has failed to deliver a positive return so far in 2019, weighed down by the rocketing price of Brent crude, up 19% in less than two weeks.

The returns from other major global markets have been sizeable: 12.1% from Brazil amid hopes of free-market reforms and 7.3% from Russia as the oil rally has taken hold.

The catalyst for this swift about-turn in stock market sentiment has been the US Federal Reserve.

Chair Jerome Powell told markets exactly what they wanted to hear last week when he signalled the central bank could hold off further interest rate rises if the US economy weakened.

That has prompted investors to dramatically reassess their view on the path for US interest rates over the next two years. According to Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts, they are now pricing rates to stay at their level for the next 24 months. Just three months earlier, a rise to 3% by the end of 2020 was being priced in to markets.

And for all that Brexit, the US government shutdown and the progress of trade talks between the US and China have hit headlines, nothing is able to influence the direction of global stock markets quite as much as the cost of borrowing in the world's largest economy.

It was fears of faster-than-expected rises in US interest rates that sparked the Red October sell-off, after Powell said rates were a 'long way' from neutral.

That sparked a big sell-off in growth stocks in particular. With the valuation of these stocks based not on their current earnings but on what they could deliver multiple years into the future, clouds on the horizon like higher interest rates can have a big impact on how those future earnings are valued today.

So Powell's dovish tone this week has had a restorative effect on those stocks. This can be seen in the funds that have responded most positively to the New Year rally.

While Latin American and oil-focused funds have jumped, with Junior Oils, Neptune Latin America and Invesco Latin American all delivering double-digit returns over the last week-and-a-bit, those with a growth focus have also flourished.

None more so than AXA Framlington Biotech, up 15%. Funds run by growth-focused Edinburgh fund group Baillie Gifford have also been on the rise. Global Discovery, the open-ended equivalent to the Edinburgh Worldwide (EWI) investment trust, is up 7.5%, while the £1.9 billion American fund run by Scottish Mortgage (SMT) co-manager Tom Slater is up 7.3%.

You can access the Accumulator here.

Leave a comment!

Please sign in or register to comment. It is free to register and only takes a minute or two.