City thinking, local knowledge

June Market Commentary

By Questa Chartered

How are global financial markets faring amidst a swirl of geopolitical tensions, inflationary pressures, and shifting central bank policies? The past year has brought significant changes, with varying impacts across different regions. Let’s dive into the key factors influencing financial markets in the UK, Europe, the United States, the Far East, and emerging markets.

 

UK: Riding the Waves of Inflation and Interest Rates

Are you feeling the squeeze from rising interest rates? The Bank of England’s recent hike to 5.25% aims to tackle persistent inflation, but it’s having ripple effects across the UK financial landscape. The FTSE 100 has shown resilience, boosted by robust performances in the energy and financial sectors. It even hit record highs in June, despite a slight dip at the end of May.

However, higher borrowing costs are cooling the housing market. And while the energy price cap will drop to £1,568 in July, saving households £122 annually, energy bills remain over £400 higher than three years ago. The anticipated increase in October means any respite might be short-lived.

What about the upcoming general election in July? Historically, there’s little correlation between the FTSE 100’s performance and the ruling party. While elections can cause short-term market jitters, they rarely impact long-term investment decisions. The focus should be on navigating potential tax planning opportunities that elections often bring.

Europe: Navigating Fragmentation and Recovery

Is Europe finding its footing amidst economic fragmentation? The European Central Bank (ECB) is cautiously holding its key interest rate at 3.75%, balancing growth with inflation control. The DAX and CAC 40 have had mixed performances, with manufacturing sectors facing supply chain disruptions and energy price volatility due to the prolonged Ukraine conflict. Yet, the tech sector is bouncing back, driven by innovation and increased digital adoption.

Speculation is rife that the ECB could cut interest rates in June if economic forecasts hold true. Inflation, which hit double digits in autumn 2022, moderated to 2.6% in March 2024 and is projected to average 2.3% this year. The eurozone’s trade surplus reached a record €27 billion in March, thanks to rising exports and falling imports.

Germany’s economy is experiencing a slight GDP decline due to reduced demand for industrial products, while Spain’s GDP increased by 0.6% in the last quarter of 2023. Ireland is forecasted to see solid growth, driven by rising wages and falling inflation, with significant leadership changes bringing new economic strategies.

United States: Bracing for High Rates and Election Uncertainty

Are high interest rates taking a toll on the US market? The Federal Reserve’s aggressive monetary tightening has pushed the federal funds rate to 6%, slowing economic growth but starting to moderate inflation. The S&P 500 and NASDAQ have seen volatility, particularly in tech and growth stocks sensitive to rate hikes.

The labour market remains tight, though wage growth is decelerating, which could ease inflationary pressures. Investors are also keeping a close eye on the upcoming presidential election, which historically adds a layer of uncertainty to market outlooks. Yet, remember, the long-term impact of elections on markets tends to be limited—focus on fundamental economic indicators instead.

Far East: Resilience Amidst Geopolitical Challenges

Is the Far East showing resilience in a challenging geopolitical landscape? China’s Shanghai Composite has rebounded following the relaxation of COVID-19 lockdowns and government stimulus measures. However, regulatory scrutiny in the tech sector continues to dampen investor enthusiasm.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 is performing well, supported by strong corporate earnings and accommodative policies from the Bank of Japan, despite challenges from a weakening yen and global supply chain disruptions. Japan’s export market remains robust, driven by high demand for electrical machinery and cars.

Emerging Markets: Navigating Turbulence and Volatility

How are emerging markets coping with turbulence and volatility? Rising global interest rates have led to capital outflows and increased borrowing costs, impacting countries like Brazil and South Africa. However, India stands out as a bright spot with strong economic growth driven by robust domestic demand and a thriving tech sector.

Brazil’s economy grew by 2.9% last year, supported by strong agricultural, industrial, and service sectors. Meanwhile, India’s GDP grew by 8.4% in the final quarter of 2023, with the International Monetary Fund predicting 6.5% growth for 2024. India’s approval of new semiconductor plants and a free trade agreement with several European countries are expected to further bolster its economy.

Conclusion

Navigating the global financial markets today requires a keen eye on regional differences and a long-term investment strategy. The UK shows positive signs despite inflationary pressures, with strong performances in energy and financial sectors. Europe is cautiously optimistic amidst economic fragmentation, and the US grapples with high interest rates and election uncertainties. The Far East demonstrates resilience despite regulatory challenges and emerging markets continue to face capital outflows and currency volatility, with India leading the charge with robust growth.

Stay informed and focused on long-term fundamentals, maintain diversified portfolios, and be prepared to navigate the ongoing uncertainties in the global financial landscape.

Sources

Market data

Market Data – Latest Financial News & Data – BBC News

Markets data – stock market, bond, equity, commodity prices – FT.com

All Market data dashboard | London Stock Exchange

Global Markets Data | Breaking Stock Market News | Reuters

Business

Business | Latest News & Updates | BBC News

Industry Reports | Choose From 100s of Global Industries (mintel.com)

Economic output and productivity – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)

Commentary

Global Weekly Commentary – Insights | BlackRock

Market commentary | Vanguard UK Professional

Market Insights | J.P. Morgan Asset Management (jpmorgan.com)

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