Viewpoint – August 2017

So far this year, market trends have been dominated by strengthening economic activity in Europe and Japan, continuing growth in the US and Asia, and subdued inflation. Amidst this backdrop, markets have generally been benign, characterised by strong equity performance and stable bond markets. These trends continued into July, with equity markets again producing the best returns, led by emerging markets, whilst bond markets progressed with credit and highyield bonds outperforming government bonds. Volatility remained extraordinarily low with the VIX index reaching all-time lows. Perhaps the most notable feature of the month was the further slide in US Dollar, down 2.9% on a trade-weighted basis during the month and 9.1% year-to-date, moving to levels of early 2015. Oil was also a major mover during the month, forming a sizeable recovery with Brent Crude up 9.9% during July, reducing its year to date fall to 7.3%. The partial recovery of Brent crude was triggered by Saudi pledges to cut exports together with the first signs that the shale oil boom in the US is slowing.