(Vir)alteration of investor optimism

Financial markets staged a strong start to the new year, propelled by the ‘phase one’ US/China trade agreement. And yet, a new spectre has caught the markets. The confirmation of human-to-human transmission of the Coronavirus on Jan. 20 and a first US case a day later caused risk sell-off in the second half of January.

Highlights:

  • Just as the trade truce provided broad-based relief, the Coronavirus is unsettling global markets.
  • The fast-spreading disease is challenging the tender global macro green shoots, but we still see resilience in US and EA domestic demand.
  • Experience from past episodes suggests that markets tend to overshoot, but rebound sharply once the number of new infections starts to slow.
  • Even before the Coronavirus, we had embraced a slightly more cautious stance on early signs of investor complacency. We maintain a (smaller) prorisk tilt in the portfolios, but reduce overweights in Equities and HY Credit. We keep our overweight in IG corporates and underweight in core bonds.

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(VIR)ALTERATION OF
INVESTOR OPTIMISM

RELATED INSIGHTS

COVID-19 FACTS & FIGURES
US President-elect Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9 trillion stimulus package proposal. Following the recent increase in cases, China has imposed new restrictions and lockdowns in the Hebei province. Canada has implemented new restrictions and a provincewide curfew in Quebec that will last until February 8. German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the recent rise in Covid-19 cases could force the country to prolong the nationwide lockdown until April.
EQUITIES: STAY POSITIVE WITH A VALUE-CYCLICAL TILT
Following a monster rally in stocks last autumn, multiples are well above historical averages, but equity investors can count on lingering low yields, tighter credit spreads and increasing central banks’ balance sheets which in turn maintain low the cost of equity and the discount rate of future cash flows.
Video Outlook 2021: Repair and Despair
Watch the Outlook video with Vincent Chaigneau, Head of Research at Generali Investments