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INVESTMENT DIRECTIONS

Autumn breezes: Change in seasons —
and markets

Aug 9, 2019

The return of fall offers cooler temperatures—but a shifting market environment. Dovish central bank policies may extend the long economic expansion, but against a backdrop of rising geopolitical tensions and trade disputes contributing to slower growth. Investors are responding by seeking to boost portfolio resilience to withstand volatility. Our take on the major investor themes for the weeks ahead:

U.S. equities: Technology: The cyclical versus the secular

With the economy in the late stages of the business cycle, we continue to favor a moderately pro-risk posture in U.S. equities. Technology remains one of our preferred sectors, but it is important to recognize that some sectors are more tied to the business cycle (like semiconductors), while others may benefit from long-term tailwinds (like software).

Developed markets:
Upgrading Europe

We are upgrading the region from underweight to neutral. The European Central Bank’s fresh monetary stimulus could provide a tailwind for equities. We believe the negative sentiment toward the region may be overdone (while recognizing obvious risks) when comparing Europe’s risk to emerging markets and its valuations to U.S. equities.

Emerging markets: Latin America in focus

We have downgraded emerging markets to neutral, but we see opportunities in Latin America. Valuations are attractive for many of the region’s economies compared to other emerging markets, particularly with respect to earnings expectations. We are not sanguine about the risk of trade tensions but note that easing financial conditions and progress on political reform have already helped drive asset prices this year.

Fixed income: Navigating the fall in rates

The Federal Reserve’s 180-degree pivot from rate hikes to rate cuts has had a significant impact on fixed income markets. Still, we believe this is an important time to strengthen the ballast in one’s portfolio through quality fixed income investments, namely investment grade bonds and agency mortgage-backed securities.

Factors: Min vol goes viral

After a challenging start to the year, both minimum volatility and momentum stocks outperformed the broader market in the second quarter. This reinforces how investors are looking to build resilience in their portfolios, while not missing out on market rallies. Min vol valuations appear stretched at this point, while momentum valuations are supportive.

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