Adviceworx OM Inflation plus 4-5% comment - Mar 18
Both global and local equity markets continued to sell off in March. The initial shock to equity markets came in early February, when it re-priced (declined) for higher United States (US) interest rate expectations. In March, the strong performing US technology shares sold off sharply on concerns of increased regulatory scrutiny and a consumer backlash, following a massive user data breach at Facebook. The fear of a global trade war was also ignited after US President Trump imposed tariffs on steel, aluminium and some $60billion worth of Chinese imports. On their own, these tariffs won't do much to reduce trade or slow economic growth but the market's concern is that it could escalate into a tit-for-tat trade war, which led to it selling off.
The MSCI All Countries World Index lost 2% in March to end the quarter down 0.8%. Local shares followed global markets sharply lower, with the FTSE/JSE Capped SWIX, our equity benchmark, losing 3.9% in March and 5.0% in the first quarter, dragging one-year returns down to 8%. This return is still ahead of inflation. More specifically, Naspers was knocked by the global tech sell-off losing 16% in the quarter but is still up 25% over 12 months. British American Tobacco also struggled, losing 15.0% in the first quarter.
The SA Reserve Bank (SARB) released our 2017 gross domestic product growth rate. While the 1.3% growth is still pedestrian, it is double the 2016 growth rate of 0.6% and was better than widely expected. A number of economic forecasters are now upgrading their expectations for growth in the coming few years, including the SARB. Boding well for the future too, is the improvement in the BER/RMB Business Confidence Index, which increased to the highest level in three years, largely on the back of the optimism over the recent political changes. There was good news for the bond market with Moody's maintaining South Africa's local and foreign currency ratings at Baa3, the last notch above so-called junk status. It also changed the ratings outlook to stable. Moody's noted that the decline in the country's institutional strength had been halted, while improved growth outlook and return to fiscal consolidation were also key drivers.
The strategies delivered their first negative quarterly return since the December 2016 quarter end. The two and three year returns for end-March are at a low point. The poor local equity market returns, on the back of a strong rand and little earnings growth, explain most of the poor returns. Over the last 12 months the local bond market returned a good 16.2%. The local listed property suffered a heavy sell-off in the Resilient group of companies and has declined sharply during the quarter returning -7.1% for the 12 months ending March 2018. Local cash has returned 7.1% for the past 12 months.
Despite the negative months of February and March, global equity markets continue to deliver good returns in US dollar terms. The MSCI All Countries Index returned 14.9% in US dollars over the last 12 months and Emerging Markets have outperformed Developed Markets over the last 12 months. However, the strong rand in December, January and February has reduced the returns to 1.7% in rand terms. Global property has returned 3.2% in US dollar terms and US cash 0.7% for the 12 months to end March 2018.
This is a multi-managed asset allocation fund that aims to produce returns of inflation plus 4 - 5% net of fees through a strategy of flexible asset allocation and stock selection implemented by some of the best managers in the industry. The fund is ideal for investors who do not want to manage their own asset allocation and believe in the benefit of investing with more than one manager.