Viewpoint – March 2021

While the vaccine news in early November was arguably the critical turning point in this cycle, providing light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, it was only in the first quarter of 2021, 12 months from the pandemic’s onset, that investors began to price in the recovery ahead and a return to post-pandemic normality. The recovery and reflation trade took hold, manifest most clearly in sharp falls in bond markets, suffering one of their worst quarterly returns in decades, and in a big rotation in equity markets, from the pandemic winners, in e-commerce, the digital and online world, to those sectors which have suffered most from lockdowns and restricted mobility. Over the quarter, global equities returned 4.9%, but within that, the sectors most sensitive to economic recovery produced substantial returns, including energy +22% and banks +19%, while those which had benefitted from the pandemic, such as IT, healthcare and consumer staples, were flat.