The World In A Week – Taper Tantrum Two?

Written by Cormac Nevin.

After an exceptionally strong 2021, markets started the New Year on a weaker footing. Equities as measured by the MSCI All Country World Index were down -1.7% in GBP terms. Fixed Income also provided little solace as rising interest rates left global treasuries down -1.0% for the week and riskier high yield bonds were also down -0.7%. The Equity sell-off was concentrated in the US growth/tech space, as the NASDAQ index of tech superstars fell -4.6% and the broader S&P 500 Index was down by -2.1%. One bright spot for the global equity landscape was our very own UK Equity market, where a high concentration of Financial and Energy stocks allowed the FTSE All Share Index to rally +1.0% as markets around the world fell. This gives some pleasing momentum to what has been one of the most unloved equity markets of the last five years.

The principal cause of this pullback in markets was the release of the minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s December meeting that illustrated the increased concerns of the Board members pertaining to the rate of inflation being experienced by the US economy. The members also concluded that economic growth was likely to be robust in 2022. This was interpreted by markets as a green light for the Fed to end the stimulus programme, which it has had in place since the start of the pandemic, earlier than previously anticipated. This view was further spurred on by the release of jobs data in the US on Wednesday that showed the unemployment rate drop to just 3.9%, despite new job creation coming in at only 50% of what was anticipated. This indicated to markets that we may be even closer to the Fed’s goal of “full employment” which gives them further scope to reduce stimulus. Markets eagerly await the latest US inflation data due on Wednesday of this week.

Other geopolitical events also paint a vista of potentially choppy waters as we enter 2022. Revolution in Kazakhstan, great power games in the Ukraine, and the possibility of the Omicron variant disrupting supply chains in the Far East all pose potential upside risks to inflation. We think our portfolios are well equipped to handle what 2022 might bring, and our focus on great companies trading on sensible valuations combined with unique diversifiers remains unchanged.

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All the data contained in the communication is believed to be reliable but may be inaccurate or incomplete. Unless otherwise specified all information is produced as of 10th January 2022.
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