When the lights go out, investors clasp tight to their chests any stocks which helps them sleep well at night. These “Teddy Bear” stocks can most easily be found in Consumer sectors selling everyday items such as drinks, food or pills to cover our daily needs. We have need of them whatever the economic storms are. The “lights going out” in economic terms can be seen in the rate of interest which central banks set.
Geopolitics and sentiment shifts in 2018 whiplashed investors and the fourth quarter of the year especially gave new meaning to ‘risk-on’ and ‘risk-off’ trades within the global equities market. To put this into context, when investor sentiment is optimistic about the economy, geopolitics and industry, riskier assets tend to get pricier – ‘risk-on’. Conversely, when uncertainty and negativity hits the market, investors tend to sell riskier assets and buy ‘safer’ ones that are typically less vulnerable to weakening investor confidence – ‘risk-off’.
After some remarkable ups and downs in 2018, asset prices have come back to earth and global growth is now firmly in low gear. The US Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing (QE) withdrawal with four interest rate hikes last year made an impact across the board from widening corporate bonds to battered emerging market currencies and we expect this and the reaction to other central banks’ tightening to provide a headwind for the wider markets in Q1 of 2019.
As 2018 winds down, we are faced with the fact that Brexit and the cloudy uncertainties it poses on UK businesses and investors continues to drag on. Although it is difficult to predict what will happen given the range of outcomes and indeed the range of forecasts on the impacts of those outcomes, we at Canada Life Investments in London feel it is important to communicate a brief analysis of it as we move into 2019.