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11 Dec 2018

What’s going to move markets in 2019


Unbelievably, yet another year has flown by. And what an eventful year it’s been – quite possibly one of the toughest for financial markets in half a century. There’s a lot to look forward to (or worry about) in 2019 so we wanted to share our Cross Asset Research team’s views on their five biggest themes including the future for Europe, the emerging markets and the ageing US cycle, before party season really kicks in. That’s it from us for this year. Thanks for reading and all the best for 2019.

1 – Europe’s differences will deepen

European assets are pricing in very little economic growth, but sentiment could easily reverse should political risks recede. Eurozone equities have been trading at around 12.2 x 12-months forward PE - 15% below their 30-yr average and around 25% lower than US valuations.  Until now though, the catalysts have been catatonic.

However, progress towards an orderly Brexit, a resolution to the rupture with Rome, an easing of trade tensions and signs of a recovery in growth could spur a re-rating. You may need to act fast - potential rate hikes in Q3 could sap the rally’s energy and push the cost of debt and the EUR higher.

We favour stability at this stage, so we’re calling the CAC over the DAX (“gilets jaunes” nothwithstanding) although the latter could be in demand should trade tensions fade. Switzerland, once again, may offer a bit of haven.  Periphery country balance sheets look weak and more exposed to any softening of growth. Certainty on the Brexit outcome can’t be a bad thing, but sterling will bounce, to the detriment of exporters.

We’ll be shifting our sector allocations into late-cycle corporates gradually, especially those capable of delivering robust earnings during cyclical slowdowns – which tend to be found in Healthcare, Oil & Gas, Financials and Basic Industries.

As for bonds? We’ll be watching out for a possible change in the Italian government’s stance and a potentially sharp narrowing of BTP-bund spreads. Holding peripheral debt could still make sense, provided you can hold your nerve.  Euro bonds will be vulnerable prior to any policy tightening, but the ECB is likely to err on the side of caution and deliver just one, minimal (10bps) hike by September 2019. Oil price recovery and firmer economic momentum should push inflation expectations higher.  

2 – EM equities should enjoy some respite

After a largely lacklustre 2018, sentiment on the emerging markets should improve in 2019. Trade, as ever, remains the talking point. Any easing of tension – something G20 leaders at least nodded to in Buenos Aires in late November - could support any equity rebound. Don’t, however, wait too long. Tighter liquidity conditions will weigh on returns in the longer term.  

Some selectivity won’t go amiss. Take China - escalating trade tensions, a weaker yuan and deleveraging have all weighed heavily on stocks in recent months. A crackdown on shadow banking – a crucial source of funding for the private sector – also looms large. GDP growth should slow to around 6% over the next 12 months.

Seen differently though, that sell-off is quite possibly excessive given domestic consumption is 62% of growth. And that growth is twice as fast as the US (the world’s largest economy) and three times faster than the rest of the developed world. And the Chinese government retains plenty of ammunition to underpin growth in 2019. The upside potential is huge, provided the Chinese model shifts toward sustainable growth – which assumes firmer consumption, higher capex and greater financial access.

Elsewhere, a lesser dependence on exports and improving domestic conditions, have insulated India from the ongoing trade conflicts. Earnings growth is also back above long-term averages and some profit normalisation is expected for financials. The next five years could be well about growth and corporate re-leveraging, a dual push that may help improve company return on equity ratios and ultimately, share price performance. 

3 –  The end of the US cycle is approaching, but no imminent threat of recession

The US economy finally looks set to slow in 2019 after a buoyant year in 2018. President Trump’s fiscal stimulus has probably done enough to avert the threat of recession until early 2021, but cyclical concerns are likely to become a major market driver in H2. GDP growth may already be on a downward trend by then.

Tight labour, rising wage costs and the difficulty of passing these costs on to consumers should narrow margins and disincentivise investment and hiring. There’s limited potential for capital gains in a world of stretched valuations and tighter liquidity conditions.

US small caps would clearly be hindered by gridlock on the Hill. They would also suffer should the dollar weaken or the cost of debt rise. We expect broad, larger-cap indices to be more resilient. Growth stocks could struggle however given new tax regimes and regulations. 

Indices like the S&P 500 should stay strong in the first part of the year but with the end of the cycle hoving into view, higher downside pressure is inevitable in H2. Risk reducers may well provide some comfort.

4 – H1 will be the time to hedge against higher rates and inflation

We expect to feel the pressures of higher inflation in H1. Trade tariffs, high capacity utilisation rates, and higher labour cost pressures in developed markets will fuel the fire, as will some form of recovery in oil prices. Higher tariffs may push inflation expectations higher right through to the summer. Ultimately, inflation breakevens have room to price more uncertainty in inflation via higher term premia, particularly coming from any spill-over into the setting of domestic prices. Inflation-linked assets should outperform nominal bonds, at least over the first half of the year.

Downside risks are more prevalent in H2 however.  Inflation expectations would be vulnerable to a worsening of financial conditions (notably wider credit spreads and weaker equities), especially in an environment of slowing growth. As late cycle assets, commodities can act as a hedge against higher inflation and downside pressures on the USD. 

5 – Global equities will face more volatility, and more downside pressure

The upside in global equities looks limited overall. Most financial assets’ valuations are stretched with the exception of Treasuries, inflation markets and some emerging market assets. Meanwhile, a more concerted central bank push towards monetary policy normalisation will also put a cap on global liquidity just when debt has never been higher. Fiscal policy uncertainty will linger, but may become less stressful once there is clarity from Europe. In the US, the likelihood of another fiscal boost looks much lower now that Trump’s hands have been tied.

We’ll be keeping an eye on growth rates, and trying to exploit and react to the different speeds on display. After several stimulus-fuelled years of plenty, we expect US economic activity to slow in the second part of the year but a modest easing of growth also looks possible Europe with Italy on the verge of recession. The expensive US dollar will eventually weaken against other major currencies should the Fed bring its tightening cycle to an end.  

As a result, we expect US assets to become more volatile as we progress through the year, most obviously in H2. Euro area equities should benefit from a combination of economic relief and better visibility on Italy’s policymaking, but any concern about growth and corporate earnings  may cap upside potential. Risk reducers may prove useful, while value may prove to be the best equity hedge against rising rates.

FOR QUALIFIED INVESTORS ONLY– This document is reserved and must be given in Switzerland exclusively to Qualified Investors as defined by the Swiss Collective Investment Scheme Act of 23 June 2006 (as amended from time to time, CISA).

This document has been provided by Lyxor International Asset Management that is solely responsible for its content.

Funds Sub-Funds Domiciled
SIX Echange listing and licensed by FINMA
Fonds commun de placement (FCP) Lyxor CAC 40 (DR) UCITS ETF – Dist France No
Fonds commun de placement (FCP)
Lyxor STOXX Europe 600 Healthcare UCITS ETF – Acc France Yes
MULTI UNITS LUXEMBOURG
Lyxor EuroMTS Highest Rated Macro-Weighted Govt Bond (DR) UCITS ETF – Acc Luxembourg Yes
MULTI UNITS LUXEMBOURG
Lyxor EUR 2-10Y Inflation Expectations UCITS ETF – Acc Luxembourg Yes
MULTI UNITS LUXEMBOURG
Lyxor MSCI China UCITS ETF – Acc Luxembourg Non
Fonds commun de placement (FCP)
Lyxor MSCI India UCITS ETF France Yes
MULTI UNITS LUXEMBOURG
Lyxor S&P 500 UCITS ETF Luxembourg Yes
MULTI UNITS LUXEMBOURG
Lyxor S&P 500 Banks UCITS ETF – Acc
Luxembourg Yes
MULTI UNITS LUXEMBOURG
Lyxor FTSE USA Minimum Variance UCITS ETF – Acc Luxembourg No
MULTI UNITS LUXEMBOURG
Lyxor Core US TIPS (DR) UCITS ETF – Dist Luxembourg No
MULTI UNITS LUXEMBOURG
Lyxor US$ 10Y Inflation Expectations UCITS ETF  Acc
Luxembourg
Yes
Lyxor Index Fund Lyxor $ Floating Rate Note UCITS ETF  Dist
Luxembourg
Yes
MULTI UNITS LUXEMBOURG
Lyxor Core iBoxx $ Treasuries 1-3Y (DR) UCITS ETF – Dist
Luxembourg
Yes
MULTI UNITS LUXEMBOURG
Lyxor FTSE All World Minimum Variance UCITS ETF – Acc
Luxembourg
No
Lyxor Index Fund Lyxor SG Global Value Beta UCITS ETF – Acc
Luxembourg
No

The funds that are specified as being listed on SIX Swiss Exchange / licensed by FINMA in the chart comprised in this document (Registered Funds) are collective investment schemes approved by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA (FINMA) as foreign collective investment schemes pursuant to article 120 of the Swiss Collective Investment Schemes Act of 23 June 2006 (as amended from time to time, CISA) for distribution in Switzerland to non-Qualified Investors as defined in the CISA. The above mentioned Exchange Trade Funds (ETFs) are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange.

The funds that are not specified as being listed on SIX Swiss Exchange / licensed by FINMA in the chart comprised in this document (non-Registered Funds, and together with the Registered Funds, the Funds) are collective investment schemes not approved by the FINMA as foreign collective investment schemes pursuant to article 120 of the CISA for distribution in Switzerland. Accordingly, the non-Registered Funds may be offered in Switzerland exclusively to Qualified Investors as defined in the CISA and its implementing ordinance. 

This document is reserved and must be given in Switzerland exclusively to Qualified Investors as defined by the Swiss Collective Investment Scheme Act of 23 June 2006 (as amended from time to time, CISA).

Financial intermediaries (including particularly, representatives of private banks or independent asset managers, Intermediaries) are hereby reminded on the strict regulatory requirements applicable under the CISA to any distribution of foreign collective investment schemes in Switzerland. It is each Intermediary’s sole responsibility to ensure that (i) all these requirements are put in place prior to any Intermediary distributing any of the Funds presented in this document and (ii) that otherwise, it does not take any action that could constitute distribution of collective investment schemes in Switzerland as defined in article 3 CISA and related regulation. Any information in this document is given only as of the date of this document and is not updated as of any date thereafter.  This document is for information purposes only and does not constitute an offer, an invitation to make an offer, a solicitation or recommendation to invest in collective investment schemes.  This document is not a prospectus as per article 652a or 1156 of the Swiss Code of Obligations, a listing prospectus according to the listing rules of the SIX Swiss Exchange or any other trading venue as defined by the Swiss Financial Market Infrastructure Act of 19 June 2015 (as amended from time to time, FMIA), a simplified prospectus, a key investor information document or a prospectus as defined in the CISA.  An investment in collective investment schemes involves significant risks that are described in each prospectus or offering memorandum. Each potential investor should read the entire prospectus or offering memorandum and should carefully consider the risk warnings and disclosures before making an investment decision.  Any benchmarks/indices cited in this document are provided for information purposes only. This document is not the result of a financial analysis and therefore is not subject to the “Directive on the Independence of Financial Research” of the Swiss Bankers Association.  This document does not contain personalized recommendations or advice and is not intended to substitute any professional advice on investments in financial products. 

The Representative and the Paying Agent of the Funds in Switzerland is Société Générale, Paris, Zurich Branch, Talacker 50, 8001 Zurich.  The prospectus or offering memorandum, the key investor information documents, the management regulation, the articles of association and/or any other constitutional documents as well as the annual and semi-annual financial reports may be obtained free of charge from the Representative in Switzerland. In respect to the units/shares of the Funds distributed in and from Switzerland, place of performance and jurisdiction is at the registered office of the Representative in Switzerland. 

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