After strong gains in November and December, global stock markets fell in January with the FTSE 100 and S&P 500 falling 0.79% and 1.46% respectively. This led to small losses in our portfolios of between 0.17% and 0.62%.
Despite small losses in January, every major stock market has remained on an upward trend and our portfolios have benefitted over the last 6 months. It is difficult to give an exact reason why stock markets fell in January, but sometimes they need to pause and give up some of their previous gains before moving higher again – it’s that simple!
The current lockdown appears to be working and the virus rates are falling in the UK. We must remember that short-term news (riots at the Whitehouse, new strains of the virus and supply problems in respect of the Pfizer vaccine in Europe), does not really affect global stock markets as they are forward-looking and can see the progress being made with vaccinations and therefore the reopening of the global economy.
The liquidity that has been pumped into the global economy is now starting to form “bubbles” in some less liquid asset classes, such as Bitcoin. The same liquidity has helped to move stock markets significantly higher over the last 6 months and the additional stimulus that is being promised by the Biden administration should help stock markets continue their upward trend.
Identifying which asset classes are in “bubbles” will be extremely important going forward and most of this Investment Update has been devoted to this.
Bonds fell in January and have been moving above and below trend over the last few months. Longer term we do not feel there is much value in bonds as yields are so low.
The performance of the portfolios over the last month, 6 months and 1 year is shown below:
Retirement Investment Solution 1
Retirement Investment Solution 2
Retirement Investment Solution 3
Retirement Investment Solution 4
Retirement Investment Solution 5
Please note that these figures do not include the platform Apex’s fees. *All figures are sourced from Financial Express.
Trend Following Signals
The table below shows whether the asset class is either in a positive trend () or a negative trend (x). The portfolios will have more exposure to those asset classes in a positive trend and less (if any) to those in a negative trend. These are the main asset classes we monitor:
Emerging Market Equity
Europe ex UK Equity
UK Corporate Bonds
UK Corporate Bonds (Short dated)
UK Index Linked Bonds
Emerging Market Bonds
Overseas Corporate Bonds
While all the equity markets remain above trend, we are experiencing some weakness in bond markets, with emerging market bonds, UK Gilts and UK Inflation Linked bonds all falling below trend.
Smart Equity” Exposure
Academic research has shown that if you follow a systematic method for investing, you will significantly outperform against the benchmark. For example, research by the Cass Business School has shown that if you combine a number of “Smart Equity” ETFs in the US market you can beat the S&P500 by at least 1.5% per annum. Our Retirement Investment Solution 2, 3, 4 and 5 portfolios combine Trend Following with “Smart Equity” exposure and invest in three ETFs from iShares which use “Momentum”, Quality” and “Volatility” in an attempt to outperform. Momentum had a great month in January, compared to the others.
Summary of Portfolios
Currently, nothing is dramatically unsettling markets despite the dangerous mutation of coronavirus, the Democrats control of the Senate and rioters storming congress. We now appear to be at the start of a “bubble” phase in equity markets. This can be borne out by the exponential rise in Tesla and Bitcoin as retail investors throw money into assets just because they are going up. If we are correct and equities are at this stage, then returns from the portfolios could be extremely strong over the next few months and years.
As Governments and Central Banks have injected more and more money into the economy, this has had the effect of pushing up the prices of many asset classes and has ultimately helped our wealth recover from the “crash” in February and March last year. We do not see this cycle ending any time soon and further stimulus packages will be announced by the Biden administration, while interest rates will be kept low. We therefore have all the ingredients for the formation of “bubbles”, and they have begun to appear in the less liquid asset classes. We do not think that this is a concern at the moment and returns from the main asset classes that we invest in could be extremely good over the next few months and years, as more and more money is printed and finds its way into stock markets. As per last month we remain bullish for the following reasons:
The roll-out of vaccinations will help to reopen the global economy and once the vulnerable are vaccinated, more confidence should return.
The US looks set to extend and increase additional fiscal stimulus packages (money printing) under the Biden administration.
The savings rate has been extremely high during lockdown for those who have remained employed, so this could be a catalyst for a surge in spending in the economy.
The Brexit deal has removed much uncertainty.
Those companies that have survived this year are likely to have implemented cost savings and may find less competition due to some companies not surviving. Therefore, the profitability of some companies could increase significantly.
Interest rates are likely to remain low for a long time to encourage a small increase in inflation. This would allow companies to borrow and invest for growth and if inflation does not go out of control, would allow them to raise prices and thus profits.
The portfolio, is subject to normal stock market fluctuations and other risks inherent in such investments. The value of your investment and the income derived from it can go down as well as up, and you may not get back the money that you invested. Investments in overseas equities may be effected by changes in exchange rates, which could cause the value of your investment to increase or diminish. You should regard your investment as medium to long term. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. Every effort is taken to ensure the accuracy of this data, but no warranties are given.