Vaccinations, Reopening, and Stimulus
Fundamentals are showing strength – but volatility, inflation, and pandemic risks remain.
- Esty Dwek, Head of Global Market Strategy for Natixis Investment Managers Solutions, expects two variables will remain front and center for investors over the near term: the success of Covid-19 vaccination rollouts and subsequent divergences in global growth. US vaccination efforts continue to expand and have been largely successful. Asia has managed the virus relatively well from the start and is also seeing vaccination success. Europe, by contrast, has seen vaccine efforts lag behind and may therefore not see greater reopening activity until later in the year.
- While speculation about increased inflation has grown, Portfolio Manager and Portfolio Strategist Jack Janasiewicz sees little evidence to support the case for inflation over the immediate term. Real interest rates remain negative and real yields remain very low. Financial conditions are expected to remain accommodative through the calendar year. The market conditions necessary for a substantial and sustained increase in inflation are likely to remain very difficult to achieve in the months ahead.
- Dwek suggests that investors should remain mindful of opportunities in emerging markets (EM). “There’s a general view that when US yields are rising, it’s bad for EM. But compared to the 2008 global financial crisis, a lot of these countries have much healthier economies. Many have handled the pandemic relatively well.”
- Dwek believes that while the Fed may consider US rate hikes in 2022 or 2023, investors should not expect a similar approach in Europe. Europe has approved smaller fiscal aid packages as of March 2021, so additional funding may be needed and interest rates are expected to remain low for the foreseeable future. Divergences in growth and earnings may result.
- The US reopening, demand from China, and manufacturing resilience in the face of Covid-19 lockdowns could translate into further upside in commodities. Commodities may represent an opportunity for investors looking to hedge potential inflation risk.
- The risk posed by the pandemic to state and local deficits in the US may have been overstated. Consumption held up through 2020, as did residential real estate markets. Fiscal aid apportioned by the American Rescue Plan Act is likely to help maintain consumer spending over the near term.
All investing involves risk, including the risk of loss. Investment risk exists with equity, fixed income, and alternative investments. There is no assurance that any investment will meet its performance objectives or that losses will be avoided. Investors should fully understand the risks associated with any investment prior to investing.
Commodity-related investments, including derivatives, may be affected by a number of factors including commodity prices, world events, import controls, and economic conditions and therefore may involve substantial risk of loss.
Foreign and emerging market securities may be subject to greater political, economic, environmental, credit, currency and information risks. Foreign securities may be subject to higher volatility than US securities, due to varying degrees of regulation and limited liquidity. These risks are magnified in emerging markets.