With the Nikkei Index breaching the 24,000 mark, its highest level in 26 years, Japan appears to have put its “lost decade” of growth well behind it.
Over the past few years, one of the main risks that concerned our team was the possibility that asset classes could become positively correlated.
A broad-based synchronised recovery continues to gain traction. Following the strongest year of global growth since 2010 (estimated at 3%) the consensus forecast for the current year looks to be even rosier.
As widely expected, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) raised interest rates by 25bps in December, its third rate hike this year. It also raised its GDP forecast for 2018.
The MSCI AC ex Japan (AxJ) Index returned 2.7% in USD terms in December, outperforming the MSCI AC World index which returned 1.4%.
A flying visit into China post the 19th Party Congress seemed like a good idea. I got the sense that post the conference, visibility and direction over the next five years was reasonably clear. But it is more difficult to hold a similar view for 2018.
The Japanese equity market rose in December, with the TOPIX (w/dividends) climbing 1.57% on-month and the Nikkei 225 (w/dividends) rising 0.32%.
Our Senior Portfolio Manager for Emerging Markets in London forecasts that in 2018, this asset class could well match 2017’s achievement.
For 2018 and beyond, we see a story of central bank policy normalization and foresee the global economy growing in a similar fashion to how it did in 2017: low growth coupled with comparatively low inflation data.
We see the key investment themes to drive performance in Global Credit in 2018 to be similar to last year. We have developed our investment themes: Long US High Yield, Long Chinese Tier1 SOEs, Long European Hybrids, Long European Financials, Long Rising Stars.