The World In A Week – Mexican Standoff
Markets faced a tough week as a risk-off environment prevailed. The Pound Sterling fell against all major global currencies. Bond markets rallied across the world, with the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Index (hedged to GBP) returning +0.63%, while Sterling Denominated Investment Grade Bonds returned +0.27%. Equities suffered across the globe. The MSCI ACWI Index of world markets returned -1.20% in GBP terms, this was led by the US market, which fell -1.91%. Value stocks underperformed growth stocks -1.54% vs -0.87%.
This downside volatility was driven by a number of events, most of which stemmed from the Oval Office. The continuing trade tensions between China and the United States spurred a move out of Equities and into perceived safe assets. The German 10 year Bund yield traded at -0.16% on Tuesday, with the 10 year US Treasury yield touching a fresh two-year low on Friday. In what Bloomberg described as a “true black swan event”, President Trump suddenly threatened to slap a five percent tariff on all Mexican imports unless it stepped up efforts to stop illegal migration. Tariffs are increasingly being employed by the President as a weapon of policy, across multiple fronts.
In spite of the bluster from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, US stocks remain very much in favour on a global basis. The gap between the valuation of US Equity markets and the rest of the world is at record highs. As a result, many investors are looking for ways to protect against a falling dollar and/or falls in the value of the Equity market itself. Local Currency Emerging Market bonds may offer such protection and are becoming increasingly popular with GBP based investors.