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Harbour Outlook: Tricky transition favours stock picking

  • The MSCI All Country World (global shares) Index rose 4.0% in USD in December, taking the three-month return to 6.7%. The same Index rose 3.1% in NZD terms over the month, and with the New Zealand dollar weakening in the past quarter, the three-month return in NZD was stronger at 7.5%.
  • The New Zealand 10-year bond yield dropped to 2.39% from 2.49% during December, while the US 10‑year bond yield rose from 1.44% to 1.51%. The move in New Zealand yields contributed to positive performance across domestic bond indices, whilst global indices fell.
  • Interest rate yield curves flattened over December as central banks globally (the Reserve Bank of Australia being the laggard) acknowledged inflation may be more than transitory and began lifting official rates. At the same time, ongoing shortages and maturing of the economic recovery contributed to the global equity market earnings revision upgrade ratio slowing, to be only slightly positive. This lift in rates and slowing earnings revisions is likely to contribute to a lift in equity market volatility.
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Harbour Team | Posted on Jan 12, 2022
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Top 10 risks (and opportunities) for 2022

Looking back on 2021 it is interesting to ponder how it will go down in history. Could it be seen as the year that inflation had a momentary resurgence before fading back into the background, or the year that entered us into a new normal? Could it be seen as the year that the 2021 United Nations Climate Change conference (COP26) brought about meaningful climate change mitigation? Could it be seen as the year that sent Chinese stocks into a bear market or the year that provided the buying opportunity of a generation?

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Hamish Pepper, Chris Di Leva | Posted on Dec 17, 2021
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Harbour Outlook: Push and pull factors dictate equity returns

  • The MSCI All Country World (global shares) Index fell -2.5% in USD in November, taking the 3-month return to -2.0%. Returns in NZD were positive due to a weakening domestic currency, delivering 2.9% in November whilst the 3-month return was 2.0%.
  • Global equity markets fell materially on the combination of Omicron COVID variant headlines, the challenges of northern hemisphere lockdowns and the likely upward trajectory of interest rates following strong inflation data.
  • While the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) raised the official cash rate (OCR) by 0.25%, their accompanying commentary was more balanced, reducing the risk of aggressive monetary policy tightening.
  • Globally bond yields fell on news of the Omicron variant; the New Zealand 10-year bond yield drew back to 2.48% from 2.63%, while the US 10-year bond yield fell from 1.55% to 1.44%. This contributed to positive performance across bond indices.
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Harbour Team | Posted on Dec 8, 2021
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Harbour Outlook: Earnings surprises support equity returns

  • The MSCI All Country World (global shares) Index rose 5.0% in USD in October, lifting the 3-month return to +2.9%. Returns in NZD were more modest, up 1.3% for the month and 0.7% over the past three months.
  • October brought a strong earnings season in the US. At the time of writing, 440 companies in the S&P 500 had reported results with 360 companies (82%) beating earnings estimates, compared to a long-run quarterly average of 66% since 1994.
  • An emerging trend is that companies with pricing power that have been able to weather supply side constraints have been able to significantly grow profits, beating expectations. We think this trend will selectively continue.
  • Bond yields continued to rise through October; the New Zealand 10-year bond yield increased sharply by 0.54% to 2.63%, while the US 10-year bond yield climbed a more modest 0.06% to 1.55%. This contributed to declines for major New Zealand and global bond indices.
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Harbour Team | Posted on Nov 9, 2021
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Harbour Outlook: Markets face a wall of worry

  • The MSCI All Country World (global shares) Index fell 4.3% (in USD) in September, though was down a more modest 1.4% over the quarter.
  • The news that one of China’s largest property developers, Evergrande, was facing imminent default caused jitters within the market, with many worried about potential contagion. Evergrande’s troubles came to the forefront following tighter restrictions on property developers’ balance sheets.
  • Broader Chinese economic momentum has continued to stall with Beijing prioritising structural reforms over growth.
  • Bond yields rose over the month, the New Zealand 10-year bond yield increased by 0.27% to 2.09%, while the US 10-year bond yield climbed 0.18% to 1.49%. This contributed to declines for major New Zealand and global bond indices.
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Harbour Team | Posted on Oct 8, 2021
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Harbour Outlook: Delta fails to dampen equity markets

  • The MSCI All Country World (global shares) Index rose 2.4% (in USD) in August, buoyed by positive earnings momentum and a more dovish than expected US Federal Reserve.
  • The New Zealand earnings season was strong with beats outnumbering misses 2 to 1. This helped drive a strong 5% return for the S&P/NZX 50 index over the month.
  • Chinese economic momentum looks to have stalled in recent months. Both Caixin and broader PMIs missed consensus estimates during the month, with the non-manufacturing side of the economy particularly weak.
  • The outbreak of COVID-19 in the community scuppered the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s (RBNZ) plans of a rate rise in August. The tone of the RBNZ remains hawkish which saw bond yields rise across all maturities during August. This caused market returns to be negative with the Bloomberg NZ Bond Composite 0+Yr Index returning -1.0% over the month.
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Harbour Team | Posted on Sep 8, 2021
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Harbour Outlook: Economic strength brings RBNZ into play

  • The MSCI All Country World (global shares) Index rose 0.6% (in USD) in June. The Australian market gained 1.1% (in AUD) while the New Zealand market fell 0.5% over the month.
  • The US Earnings season has been strong with, at the time of writing, 443 companies reporting earnings and 377 companies (85%) delivering earnings above consensus expectations.
  • Concerns around the COVID-19 delta variant and associated mobility restrictions has contributed to some forecasters reducing global growth expectations.  
  • In contrast, the strength of the New Zealand economy has seen the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) signal imminent rate hikes, seeing rates out to five years increase over the month.
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Harbour Team | Posted on Aug 9, 2021
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Harbour Outlook: Expansion accelerates taper talk

  • The MSCI All Country World (global shares) Index rose 1.2% (in USD) in June. New Zealand and Australian shares (in AUD) also performed strongly, returning 2.8% and 2.3%.
  • Bonds delivered a small gain, with the Bloomberg NZ Bond Composite 0+Yr Index returning 0.12% in June. The fall in 10-year government bond yields in New Zealand was muted (falling just 0.03%) relative to the US, who saw their 10-year Treasury yield fall 0.13% over the month. Globally yield curves flattened in June.
  • The market has sided with policy makers in deciding that inflation is transitory, for now. US headline inflation is currently 5% year on year, surveys suggest prices paid by firms are at historic highs and consumer inflation expectations have started to increase.
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Harbour Team | Posted on Jul 8, 2021
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Harbour Investment Perspectives: Into an expansion

We are six months into the calendar year and investors have enjoyed resilient markets in the first half of 2021; a continuation of the strong recovery from the immediate Covid-19 impacted crisis. Andrew Bascand, our Managing Director, has penned this letter to clients framing the current environment, thanking our stakeholders for their support, and providing some thinking about the period ahead of us.

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Andrew Bascand | Posted on Jul 5, 2021
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Harbour Outlook: Markets ponder higher inflation

  • Global equity markets delivered strong returns in May, up 1.6% in US dollars. Cyclical stocks continued to outperform, helping lift the Australian market by 2.3%. New Zealand shares underperformed, down 3.2% over the month.
  • Bonds delivered a negative return, with the Bloomberg NZ Bond Composite Index down -0.7%.
  • US economic data have been mixed over the past month and should benefit over the coming year as consumers spend a portion of the US$1.8trn of excess savings built up since COVID-19. US job growth unexpectedly moderated in April and the unemployment rate increased. CPI inflation was surprisingly high at 4.2% year on year.
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Harbour Team | Posted on Jun 9, 2021