Market update – November 2019
A summary of our current economic and market views.
04 Nov 2019
Stocks and bonds remain in demand amid slowing growth
Initial data on third-quarter GDP suggests that the pace of global growth continues to cool. US output grew at an annualised rate of 1.9%, the slowest pace of the year, while the eurozone likely experienced negligible growth.
More encouragingly, consumer spending remains resilient and we expect this will keep global growth in positive territory. Against this uncertain backdrop, bonds remain close to the record highs they achieved over the summer.
Global equities continue to grind higher, led by the US. Both asset classes have been boosted by supportive monetary policy, while equity investors have been encouraged by signs that trade tensions between the US and China are easing.
Fed takes a pause, continuity at ECB
Following its third interest rate cut of the year, the Federal Reserve suggested that monetary policy would remain on hold for now. While the US central bank downplayed the prospect of interest rate rises, markets could experience higher volatility if there is concern the Fed is moving away from its supportive monetary stance.
In Europe, Christine Lagarde has assumed the presidency of the European Central Bank. She is widely expected to follow her predecessor’s approach, attempting to stimulate the economy though very accommodative monetary policy while encouraging eurozone member states to raise spending.
Risk of no clear Brexit outcome after UK election
Though the risk of a “no-deal” Brexit has fallen, a wide range of Brexit outcomes is still possible following next month’s General Election. If the Conservatives win a majority, as currently predicted by polls, they should be able to push their Brexit deal through Parliament. However, other outcomes – such as a hung parliament – could intensify uncertainty over the coming months. Sterling and UK stocks may experience heightened volatility as we head towards the election.
We have not made significant adjustments to our portfolio over the past month. We retain a neutral allocation to equities. Our equity exposure remains well-diversified by geography and style and we do not expect the election or Brexit to have a significant impact on portfolios overall.
Though bonds have retreated slightly from their recent highs, we still consider them expensive and maintain our underweight position. By contrast, we continue to like alternatives as a means of increasing diversification. We also continue to hold a slightly overweight position in cash, which allows us to quickly take advantage of any opportunities that may arise.