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Asset Allocation Insights – Bad and Getting Worse for Equity Investors

Investors Shun Equities

  • A slow week with a bit of cheer for equity investors
  • US small caps recover the most – up 1% for the week but still down 21% over the last three months
  • REITS gave back some gains last week (down 1.7%) and are now also in negative territory for 2018
  • Commodity indices remain driven by lower oil prices with no sign of resurgent inflation
  • Aggressive, domestically focused multi-asset class strategies out-performed less risky options
  • YTD lower risk asset allocation strategies have outperformed especially if allocations involved international equities
  • Within equities, Growth slightly under-performed Value but Growth remains solidly ahead for the year
  • Cash remains the best performing of the major asset classes for the year

Currencies:

  • The USD is losing some strength as budget discussions in Washington remain unresolved and the Fed has indicated being close to done with rate hikes
  • A depreciating USD will boost international asset returns
  • The British Pound continued depreciating due to major uncertainty regarding BREXIT early in 2019
  • The Yen is now in a Break Out phase as investors remain very risk-averse and the Yen is usually considered the “safe” trade
  • Resource-oriented currencies experienced the biggest losses last week relative to the USD as commodity prices remain in a Down Trend
  • In general, FX volatility has increased substantially in the last couple of months

Commodities:

  • Commodity indices continue in a Down Trend as oil markets had another down leg
  • On the flipside, grain prices have been recovering since the summer
  • Natural gas prices were down over 8% due to warmer predicted weather and lower levels of fuel switching than anticipated
  • Gold and Silver had good weeks as investors have become more risk averse and the Fed has indicated only 2 more rate hikes for 2019
  • However, we still view US Treasuries as the best hedging option for equity risk

This Coming Week:

  • The year of risk-off continues with little to offer us hope that risky assets will recover soon – there may be a spike in January but risk is being shunned at the moment
  • While not comfortable, US investors should allocate more money to non-US stocks due to their lower valuations
  • The strong USD will not persist much stronger as the FED appears close to the end in terms of interest rate hikes
  • The Value/Growth discussion is being overshadowed by sector rotation but on a risk-adjusted basis we believe that higher allocations to Value are warranted
  • We are also watching out for any jump in inflationary expectations (which have been trending down). Tariffs are inflationary and will be reflected in higher consumer prices eventually
  • EM equities, in particular, are recovering. We still believe that an allocation is warranted. Our biggest concerns revolve around blowing out interest rate spreads and a slowing global economy
  • Leverage on the balance sheet of companies should be cross-checked for sustainability
  • We still see a risk on/off market next year making it difficult for short-term investors – probably best to extend horizons

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To read our full weekly report please click here

Eric J. Weigel

Global Focus Capital LLC

eweigel@gf-cap.com

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Weekly Asset Allocation Review – Free

Weekly Equity Themes Review – Free

The Equity Observer (Monthly) – Subscription Required

The Asset Allocation Advisor (Monthly) – Subscription Required

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