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Asset allocation quarterly – April 2019

Asset allocation analysis, Investment strategy

Maximilian MOLDASCHL
 

This document is intended for Institutional Investors (as defined in the Securities and Futures Act, Chapter 289 of Singapore) only and is not suitable or intended for persons who do not qualify as such.

Summary

  • Central banks turning dovish again – Markets rallied further in February, with the perceived pause in US monetary policy tightening acting as a major driver; easing measures by Chinese policymakers added to the positive backdrop.
  • Remember 2016? – We see similarities to late 2015/early 2016 when a pause in US tightening and Chinese easing measures caused risky assets and carry trades to outperform.
  • Downside growth risks persist – The economic cycle has clearly matured since 2016 and we continue to see more downside than upside risks to our base case. Given the sharp rally in markets this year, we are not chasing the recent moves.
  • Fundamentals key medium term – While investors have recently focused on the Fed’s pause, we believe economic and corporate fundamentals will ultimately drive markets. We are monitoring corporate earnings trends closely.
  • Worse risk-adjusted returns ahead Despite the year-to-date market rally, we still expect a regime change towards lower returns and more volatility as the era of quantitative easing (QE) by central banks winds down eventually.

Asset allocation

  •  Directional risk/reward unattractive – With risk assets sat bang in the middle of our scenario analysis range and downside risks to our macroeconomic base case lingering, we find the directional risk/reward in stock markets unattractive.
  •  Strategically neutral equities – Our preferred long-term allocation to equity markets overall remains neutral.
  •  Underweight fixed income – We remain underweight EMU bonds, having added a further short in 10-year German Bunds after recent bullish price action. In the medium term, the outlook for EMU yields is skewed to the upside.
  • Building robust portfolios and diversifying – Given the uncertain macro backdrop, we regard building robust portfolios and holding diversification trades as key at this point of the cycle. We hold several positions/RV trades with asymmetries.

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