This June, the world was more captivated by riots in France, Prigozin’s short-lived rebellion in Russia, and a certain missing submersible. Financial markets were relatively well behaved, bringing to a close a very positive first six months of the year.
Despite the most forecasted recession in history supposedly being just around the corner, stock markets indices have performed very well over the first half of 2023:
|Index||June performance||H1 Performance|
Highly mixed economic data combined with a huge amount of excitement around AI/tech has resulted in strong index-level performance driven by a small number of stocks. In May, it was NVIDIA, in June it was Apple. This has resulted in the tech-heavy Nasdaq having its best H1 in 40 years, not something you would necessarily have expected in a rising-rate environment where a recession is being forecasted.
The best-performing regional equity index was the Topix which has had a stellar start to the year rallying over 20% year to date. A few factors have been at play, one of which has been a weak Yen that has helped many Japanese stocks.
If you read enough headlines, you can come up with some sort of narrative behind any market move, but here are some reasons why the market has moved in the way it has in H1:
Good headline figures
Rates have risen, US inflation has fallen from 9% to 4%, the labour market seems fine, and nothing catastrophic has happened. If you had forecast this at the start of the year, you’d have been accused of being too optimistic. Usually, the rate rises that are needed to bring inflation down this quickly would bring about a lot of unemployment and break some other parts of the economy along the way. Yes, the banking sector had a wobble, but what has happened so far has still been pretty moderate.
Something, something, AI
AI will no doubt have a big impact on all of our lives and 2023 has been the year that the world has got really excited about it. ChatGPT and similar releases, such as Google’s Bard, have made people think much more seriously about how AI might impact our lives and productivity.
This got a lot of analysts very excited and resulted in a very narrow rally in some names that might benefit from this AI revolution – Microsoft, Alphabet, Apple, NVIDIA, and Meta. Fortunately for index investors, these are already the largest companies in the world… so they managed to drag the whole of the US market up.
During June, we did not make any major changes to portfolios.
Core investment views
At 7IM, we have several long-term core views that help to guide our investment decisions and allocations within portfolios.
Over the next 12 months, we think that the global economy will slide into a recession. In this environment, it is important to rely on a stable identity. Economic uncertainty creates fear and investor sentiment tends to overreact to economic turning points. Going forward, we believe that:
- Inflation will come down. Goods inflation is slowly normalising, and supply chain pressures are going
- Central banks are getting close to the end of their hiking cycles, but there is still a bit more work to do
- A US recession is highly likely. Most leading indicators are pointing towards a recession, but the recession shouldn’t be too long or deep.
… with slightly weaker data leading to panic right now
And so, investors are starting to worry about what’s next for financial markets. Economic data isn’t likely to stabilise until next year. Equity markets are unlikely to perform well.
We know our investment identity helps us to deliver in just these kinds of environments. We have positions that can generate returns despite this volatile backdrop.
You can download the commentary as a PDF here.
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