Prudential Core Value Fund comment - Sep 19
September proved to be a relatively resilient month for global equity markets in the face of a string of negative news. Escalating trade-war tensions between the US and China, the start of efforts to impeach President Trump, Brexit uncertainty in the UK and political instability in Europe (particularly in Italy), were not enough to dampen investor sentiment as developed and emerging markets both closed the month in the black. In the US, President Trump's administration announced that it was considering delisting Chinese companies from US stock exchanges. The move formed part of a broader effort to limit US investment in Chinese companies. In keeping with market expectations, the US Federal Reserve cut interest rates by 25 bps, citing the prolonged US-China trade war and weak global economic growth as ongoing risk factors. Markets however, were disappointed as the Fed downplayed expectations of further interest rates cuts. In the UK, the Supreme Court ruled Prime Minister Johnson’s move to suspend Parliament was illegal, triggering calls from opposition parties for him to step down. In the EU, outgoing ECB president Mario Draghi announced that the central bank would cut interest rates by 10bps (below market expectations of a 20bp cut) and would continue to keep rates at accommodative levels until inflation showed signs of approaching the 2.0% target. China, meanwhile, filed a lawsuit with the World Trade Organization after the US imposed an additional 15% tariff on US$300bn worth of Chinese imports from 1 September. In retaliation to the tariff increase, China levied new duties of between 5-10% on US$75bn worth of American imports, including crude oil.
South African equities ended largely flat as gains made in the first half of the month were erased following the release of poor local economic data. The SARB, meanwhile, kept interest rates on hold and its latest quarterly projection model pointed to no interest rate changes through year-end. The growth outlook for 2020 and 2021, however, was revised down from 1.8% to 1.5%, and from 2.0% to 1.8% respectively. Preliminary results showed that GDP expanded 3.1% in the second quarter, well above market consensus of 2.5%. The FTSE/JSE All Share Index delivered 0.2% for the month, with Resources returning -1.1%, Financials 3.5%, Property 1.5% and Industrials -0.7%.
Among the largest relative contributors to performance for the month were overweight positions in Naspers, BAT and Anglo American. Among the main detractors from value were overweight positions in Prosus, Sappi and Multichoice.