Our learning lab for retail investors
Always remember that unlike saving, you could lose some or all of your money, so working with your financial adviser to find the most suitable investments for your needs is vital. If you want to find out more about different asset classes, such as equities and bonds and how they differ in terms of risk and return, our Learning Lab’s jargon-free guides outline what you need to know.
Whether you’re already invested or just thinking about it, it is always worth reminding yourself of the basics.
These guides are for information purposes only. We do not give financial advice, and you should speak to a financial adviser if you are not sure about the suitability of your investments.
Market review and outlook
Global equities edged down in local-currency terms in the third quarter of 2021, with concerns about a weakening global economy and soaring inflation – along with the increased likelihood of monetary policy tightening from major central banks – having weighed on sentiment. Initially, markets found support from optimism about the ongoing global recovery, underpinned by the continued rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations. However, the spread of the Delta variant of the virus unsettled investors, as did the threat of a bond default by Chinese property giant Evergrande.
Over the first part of the quarter, UK gilt yields followed US treasury yields lower. The prevailing view at the time was that the major central banks, which reiterated their belief that inflationary pressures were transient, would remain in favour of lower interest rates amid signs of a pandemic-driven slowdown in global economic growth. However, gilt yields then rose notably on signs that inflation was becoming more entrenched, leading to central banks increasingly looking at raising interest rates. In Europe, the German 10-year yield was one basis point (bps) lower at -0.19%. Italy’s 10-year yield finished 4bps higher at 0.86%. Economic activity continued at a robust pace, the region benefiting from the release of pent-up demand, having come out of lockdowns relatively late. Eurozone inflation hit a decade high of 3.4% year-on-year in August.
Global equities made solid gains in the second quarter of 2021, as the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations across the world and continued economic improvement boosted sentiment. Growing inflationary pressures, however, dominated headlines and led to sharp declines in early May. In June, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) indicated that it could start to raise interest rates sooner than expected – albeit only in 2023 – because of rising inflation, which rattled markets worldwide. Worries about the pandemic continued to cause bouts of unease as infections spiked in several key countries early in the quarter, especially India, and as the highly contagious Delta variant spread around the world. Oil prices rose strongly as the demand outlook continued to improve.
Over the quarter, longer-dated UK government bonds (those maturing in 15 years or more) performed best, while bonds with maturities between one and five years lagged. Supportive policies helped to anchor yields, with the Bank of England opting to leave the volume of its UK government bond purchases unchanged. Bond investors expressed their relief that UK policymakers have continued to favour lower interest rates. European government bonds underperformed the US, amid growing optimism about the region’s recovery and accelerating vaccination programme. Meanwhile, the first of the new issues that will finance the €800bn NextGenerationEU recovery fund came to market in June. The funds raised are earmarked for EU member states, to help them recover from the pandemic. Despite offering a low yield, the first issue was seven times oversubscribed.
The short-term macro outlook is complicated by the energy price spike. If it is temporary, then it is consistent with the argument for inflation falling back in 2022. The US break-even inflation curve has been negative since the start of the year, so the market is still running with the transitory view. However, the broader concerns about supply chains suggest economic data and production could continue to be disrupted over the winter. From an equity market point of view, we believe concerns about supply and how disruptions could impact on revenue and earnings guidance is more of a threat than significantly higher bond yields.
Whether you’re already invested or just thinking about it, it is always worth reminding yourself of the basics