Can You Benefit from the Rising Trends in Global Markets?

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Can You Benefit from the Rising Trends in Global Markets?

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Introduction (Global Markets)

While emerging markets have historically lagged behind their developed counterparts, recent trends suggest potential for recovery and growth. Concurrently, the European fixed income market offers distinct advantages for diversification and yield.

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Emerging Markets Poised for a Comeback

Performance Overview (Global Markets)

  • Emerging markets have faced significant challenges in recent years, primarily due to a disparity in corporate earnings when compared to developed markets. The largest economy in the emerging market sector, China, has notably struggled, impacting overall sentiment and investment flows. However, there are tentative signs of recovery, with corporate earnings in local currencies showing improvement despite the headwinds from a strong US dollar​​.

 

  • In April 2024, earnings expectations for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index increased by 5% in local currency terms, contrasting with a 2% decline for the MSCI World Index. This improvement highlights the resilience of emerging market companies in navigating challenging economic conditions​​.

Shifting Sentiments and Valuations (Global Markets)

  • The market sentiment towards emerging markets has been cautious, particularly with concerns surrounding China’s economic trajectory. This has resulted in a large valuation discount for emerging markets relative to developed markets. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index trades at a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 11x, compared to 17x for the MSCI World Index​​. However, a potential reversal in US dollar strength could uncover the true growth potential of emerging markets, as earnings expectations continue to improve​​.

China’s Economic Outlook

  • While China’s corporate earnings have not seen the same upward trend as other emerging markets, recent targeted stimulus measures and policy support have led to a notable rally in Chinese stock prices. Over the past three months, the MSCI China Index has seen a 17% return in local currency terms, suggesting a positive shift in market dynamics. This compares favorably to a 4% return for the MSCI World Index during the same period​​.

Key Drivers of Recovery

  • Several factors have contributed to the recovery in emerging markets. Momentum and sentiment themes have been significant drivers, with a high correlation in factor returns between developed and emerging markets. This environment has enabled significant alpha generation in emerging market strategies, highlighting the importance of a well-timed and diversified investment approach​​.

European Fixed Income: A Haven for Investors

Unique Market Dynamics

  • The European fixed income market is characterized by its high level of differentiation across countries, each with its own fiscal policies and government bond markets. This creates a variety of yield curves and potential opportunities for investors. The European Central Bank’s (ECB) commitment to ensuring smooth market functioning, as seen during the eurozone sovereign debt crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, plays a crucial role in maintaining market stability​​.

 

  • During the eurozone sovereign debt crisis, 10-year sovereign bond spreads widened significantly, with Italian spreads reaching over 500 basis points above German Bunds. Following the ECB’s “whatever it takes” speech, these spreads narrowed considerably, showcasing the impact of decisive policy action on market stability​​.

Economic and Inflation Trends (Global Markets)

  • The eurozone has historically experienced lower growth and inflation rates compared to the United States. Factors such as lower productivity, rigid labor markets, and adverse demographic trends have restrained growth. However, the ECB’s monetary policy, including initiatives like the pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP) and the Transmission Protection Instrument, has been instrumental in mitigating market disruptions and supporting recovery​​.

 

  • From 2010 to 2024, the eurozone’s average annual GDP growth was 1.2%, compared to 2.3% for the United States. Additionally, cumulative inflation since 2000 has been 30% lower in the eurozone compared to the US, reflecting the region’s different economic dynamics​​.

Investment Opportunities in Corporate Bonds

  • European corporate bonds offer a defensive investment option with shorter durations and conservative management practices compared to their US counterparts. European corporates have prioritized deleveraging and maintaining strong credit fundamentals, making the market attractive for investors seeking stability and robust yields. The financial sector, in particular, presents opportunities for spread compression and stable credit ratings in the near term​​.

 

  • As of May 2024, the average modified duration for European investment-grade (IG) corporate bonds is 5.2 years, compared to 7.6 years for US IG corporates. This shorter duration helps mitigate interest rate risk, making European IG bonds a compelling option for conservative investors​​.

Strategic Allocation for Diversification

  • Investors looking to benefit from the European fixed income market can leverage its depth and breadth through active, unconstrained investment approaches. This involves sector and country allocations, duration positioning, and security selection. The market’s differentiation and the ECB’s proactive policy stance offer compelling reasons to consider European fixed income as part of a diversified investment strategy​​.

Global Markets

 

Takeaways (Global Markets)

Earnings Recovery in Emerging Markets: Emerging markets show promising signs of recovery, with a notable 5% increase in earnings expectations in April 2024. However, investors should remain cautious of potential headwinds, particularly from China.

Valuation Discounts: Emerging markets offer significant valuation discounts compared to developed markets, trading at a P/E ratio of 11x versus 17x for the MSCI World Index. This discount provides attractive entry points for investors seeking long-term growth.

European Fixed Income Opportunities: The European fixed income market offers diverse opportunities, especially in sovereign and corporate bonds. The ECB’s supportive policies and the region’s economic fundamentals provide a stable backdrop for investment.

Shorter Duration in European Bonds: European investment-grade corporate bonds have a shorter average duration compared to US counterparts, making them a favorable choice for investors looking to mitigate interest rate risk.

Strategic Diversification (Global Markets): Both emerging markets and European fixed income present unique opportunities for diversification. Investors should consider these markets as part of a well-rounded investment strategy to balance risk and reward.

Conclusion

The convergence of improving earnings expectations in emerging markets and the unique opportunities within the European fixed income market presents a promising landscape for investors. By understanding the underlying dynamics and strategically positioning portfolios, investors can harness the potential of these markets.

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Source:

  1. https://www.gsam.com/content/dam/gsam/pdfs/us/en/articles/know-how/2024/edition-2/2q-2024-market-know-how-US.pdf?sa=n&rd=n
  2. https://www.ssga.com/ch/en_gb/institutional/ic/insights/systematic-active-monthly-may-2024
  3. https://www.goldmansachs.com/intelligence/pages/gs-research/central-bank-divergence-room-to-run/report.pdf
  4. https://franklintempletonprod.widen.net/content/utqnbdjkl5/pdf/unveiling-european-fixed-income-non-us.pdf

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Other reads:

  1. Can Investors Navigate Inflation and Still Find Growth in 2024?
    Can US Consumer Spending Withstand Slowing Economic Growth? (Macro Update)
  2. Can US Markets Maintain Their Resilience? (Macro Update)

Global Markets

Join the conversation with your own take on these topics in the comments below.

About the Author

Alessandro is a Professional Financial Markets researcher and he loves to share with you the most interesting charts and comments.

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