Equity strategy and market outlook – July 2020

Published on 30 July 2020
Cropped - Equity strategy and market outlook

In this month’s strategy piece, Alastair believes that equity market investors appear to have skipped to the final scenes of the pandemic movie. Market pricing is consistent with the view that COVID-19 effects will be relatively short-lived. However, bond markets have discounted a relatively long period of lower interest rates and gold is nudging new highs. We remain neutral on equities for now but acknowledge the very recent uptick in COVID-19 cases around the globe. However, the sheer extent of the outperformance of ‘growth’ indices over ‘value’ since 2015 is in our view a concern as on a global basis faster-growing companies are now trading several standard deviations above their 10-year price/book average. Separately, the astonishingly rapid deterioration of the US/China relationship has serious implications for geopolitical stability over the medium term. Any continuation of the trends in sanctions, tariffs and trade barriers creates the risk of a real division in the world economy between the Western and China spheres of influence. Investors are being asked to balance fiscal and monetary support for markets against the significant uncertainty in the trajectory of COVID-19 cases. Progress is being made on treatment options and vaccines and the political agenda has shifted towards keeping economies open with more specific restrictions for higher-risk activities.

 

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