Every year is different from what you expect, and that is particularly true in financial markets. It is easier to say over the first five months of 2022 which investment areas have lost you money, especially if you also factor in the enhanced inflationary backdrop. There will always be some element of volatility in financial market investment, but it still plays the most essential role in any pension fund portfolio or medium-term financial target. What really matters is maintaining confidence during times of uncertainty.
Whilst the spring weather continues to warm, plenty of financial sector issues continue to worry global investors across both equity and bond markets. Meanwhile heightened inflation levels continued to impact bank account balances, and the war in Ukraine has led to many tragedies along with heightened geopolitical, commodity and supply concerns.
It has been 60 years since the Beatles signed their first record deal. The rock group from Liverpool dominated the industry for nearly a decade – and long after that as individual performers. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr created timeless tunes and memorable messages that we can borrow today to portray our economic and financial market outlook.
Events in Eastern Europe over the last week have correctly dominated TV, radio, newspaper and online news. It also meant that almost all equity or bond investors made losses during February, many for the second consecutive month unless – like the U.K. equity market – there was high proportional exposure to commodity sector shares.
There is a famous quote by the legendary Belgian professional cyclist Eddy Merckx that he “raced from 1 February to 31 October every year, competed for everything”. Unfortunately for financial markets there is never a defined season, and, whilst 2021 ended positively, January 2022 will go down into the history books as being a little bit more difficult.
The key for writing any monthly report is not to do it too early, especially during the end of November which saw the word Omicron become much better known than just by followers of the Greek alphabet. Whilst progress against COVID-19 challenges have helped almost all developed market stock markets generate attractive returns year-todate, many indices fell during the second half of November following concerns about the new virus strain.
October was generally a positive month for global equity markets, helping to push many developed market indices to new 2021 highs. Whilst COVID-19 challenges remained material and new concerns about gas prices, petrol availability and general delivery concerns became more apparent during the month, so far the average third-quarter corporate earnings season number has been taken well. However, most fixed income markets have continued to struggle this year, even if many 10-year bond yields have not yet returned to levels seen earlier this year.
Less than eight months ago, Rishi Sunak presented a Budget that was anticipating the ending of the pandemic’s impact on the UK economy. He announced extensions and end dates for the furlough scheme, the self-employed income support scheme, reduced VAT for hospitality and the £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit. To finance some of that expenditure, the Chancellor also revealed a 6% increase in corporation tax, deferred until 2023.