Quarterly Market Commentary: This autumn 2021


Quarterly Market Commentary: Q4 2021

Dominant themes influencing the market all through 2021 included: COVID vaccination charges, continued straightforward central financial institution insurance policies, fiscal stimulus, report company earnings, an enhancing labor market and powerful shopper spending. However, considerations remained elevated relating to the continuing pandemic and the emergence of latest variants, provide chain disruptions, inflationary pressures, the Fed’s extra hawkish stance, and considerations round stretched valuations.

We proceed to watch developments carefully and consider our portfolios are nicely positioned to proceed to fulfill the long-term objectives of our shoppers.

International shares had been greater within the fourth quarter of 2021, with the MSCI All World Index producing robust returns to finish 2021 up +16.8% and ending simply off report highs. This marks the third straight yr of optimistic positive factors for international shares.

MSCI All World Stock Index 2020-2021

There was some dispersion throughout sectors and themes. Worth and Progress shares ended the yr with comparable efficiency, however there was important disparity intra-quarter, notably within the first half of the yr, which offered enhanced rebalancing alternatives. Actual property was the most effective performing asset lessons in 2021 on the again of favorable supply-demand dynamics, which helped buoy property costs after experiencing a weak 2020. We had been including to actual property exposures via the again half of 2020 and early in 2021 primarily based on relative efficiency on the time.

Core Bonds Decrease as Yields Rise

Bond yields ended the yr greater, with the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield ending the yr at 1.51%, up from 0.91% at first of the yr. Consequentially, the broad bond market – as measured by the Core U.S. Mixture Bond ETF – completed the yr down -1.8%. Inflation considerations weighed on the bond market, and the Fed’s coverage pivot announcement put upward stress on rates of interest because of the accelerated tapering timeline and signaling the probability of three charge will increase in 2022.

U.S. Government 10-Year Note Yield

Given this backdrop and outlook, we’ve positioned our core fastened earnings with much less period danger (or rate of interest sensitivity) than the broad bond market and are avoiding fastened earnings securities most vulnerable to rising rates of interest, resembling Treasuries with maturities of 10 years or extra. Our much less liquid earnings oriented methods carried out notably nicely in 2021 and we consider are nicely positioned to proceed to outperform with a backdrop of rising rates of interest and above-trend financial progress.

COVID Dominates Headlines

Delta considerations gave method to omicron late in November. Whereas preliminary uncertainties relating to its elevated transmissibility and then-unknown severity brought about some market volatility, subsequent research point out the variant causes far more gentle signs relative to earlier mutations. With that being stated, it does additionally seem to higher evade current vaccines at present in distribution. Latest information have confirmed that whilst absolute case numbers soar, the variety of extreme instances and hospitalizations haven’t. This decoupling has led to elevated optimism, with some medical specialists believing omicron’s enhanced transmissibility might trigger a lot immunity that it’ll assist subdue the pandemic.

Daily Reported New Positive COVID-19 Tests March 1, 2020 - December 27, 2021

South Africa COVID-19 Cases vs. Deaths

There may be additionally a transparent hesitancy to impose renewed restrictions, with the White Home stressing the U.S. isn’t going again to March 2020 ranges of mitigation measures. We consider this hesitancy and the comparatively gentle signs, mixed with the actual fact companies and customers have now largely tailored to the COVID surroundings, means the financial affect of the omicron variant could also be a lot decrease than prior strains. Certainly, we anticipate future mutations to have much less of an financial affect over time.

Inflation was a key financial theme for a lot of the yr, and it grew to become evident inflation would keep elevated for longer than beforehand anticipated as provide chain points are but to be resolved. Headline CPI posted the very best annual improve since 1982 in November, as robust demand on the again of accommodative insurance policies coupled with provide chain constraints led to upward pricing pressures. Vitality costs particularly surged from very weak ranges in 2020. With that stated, we consider inflation will migrate decrease in 2022 as manufacturing bottlenecks finally ease and virus enhancements cut back manufacturing disruptions. Notably, if we normalize for the weak base results attributable to COVID in 2020 and return 24 months, core CPI is working at an annualized charge of three.3%.

Core CPI Inflation Graph

Elevated inflation seems to have compelled the Fed’s hand right into a extra hawkish stance. At its December FOMC assembly, the Fed introduced an acceleration to its tapering program and its “dot plot” financial forecasts indicated three charge hikes are doubtless in 2022. In explaining the choice, Fed Chair Powell continued to acknowledge energy within the economic system and protracted worth pressures, stating it was time to retire the time period “transitory” to explain inflation. Expectations are for the Fed to conclude its tapering program by March 2022, with the primary rate of interest improve doubtless in June. Towards this backdrop, we count on dangers to the upside for rates of interest and have positioned our fastened earnings allocations accordingly.

Fiscal Coverage Help Waning

November noticed the roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan signed into legislation, whereas the bigger “Construct Again Higher” (BBB) social-spending plan was derailed as negotiations broke down. Senator Manchin, whose assist is important for BBB to move, indicated he can not assist it in its present type. Nonetheless, negotiations are ongoing and there’s a probability one thing is handed early in 2022. Even so, we anticipate fiscal spending to scale back relative to the final 21 months. Elsewhere in Washington, the federal debt ceiling was raised, maintaining the federal government funded into early 2023 and serving to to alleviate authorities shutdown considerations.


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