Despite market volatility, the synchronised global economic recovery has continued apace. In the UK, GDP forecasts were revised up to 1.6% on the back of this stronger growth, whilst we also saw wage growth exceed inflation for the first time in twelve months. However, this dip in inflation (to 2.5%) has caused the market to speculate that UK interest rates – and therefore bond yields – will not now rise as fast as previously thought.
The first estimate of Q1 US GDP growth came in at 2.3% on Friday afternoon, slightly ahead of consensus expectations but much lower than the 2.9% seen in the previous quarter. Some may see this as a disappointment and a further sign that the global economic recovery is slowing. However, we believe Q1 GDP numbers have structural flaws, which means that the US Federal Reserve (Fed) is unlikely to reverse their plans for the trajectory of interest rates.
The likely challenge over the next few years is likely to be to preserve, rather than seek higher returns on capital. This is particularly important given that global central banks are currently withdrawing monetary easing. We believe that active management will be crucial in this kind of market environment, particularly in the short-dated corporate credit space.
In February, a surge in inflation expectations in the context of strong global growth, combined with central banks hinting at upcoming additional rate rises caused a spike in government bond yields globally. As a result, fixed income assets have been volatile, but have held up far better than equities. Why?