Viewpoint – May 2019

The extraordinary start to 2019 for global financial markets continued into April, with strong rises in most risk assets, led by equities, which have enjoyed their best start to a year in decades. All the major equity markets produced solid positive returns with developed equities again outperforming emerging markets, returning 3.5% versus 2.1%. US equities returned 4% in US dollar terms and hit another record high late in the month. The strong performance in the US was however exceeded by Europe, advancing 4.3% in euro terms, buoyed by signs that the sharp slowdown in growth across the eurozone was stabilising. Japan again underperformed, up 1.7% in April and 9.5% year-to-date, the latter making up half of the returns of the US (18%) and Europe (17.2%). Japan has been held back by slower growth this year, below 1% per annum, hurt by the slowdown in China and softness in global growth. The market’s underperformance leaves it attractively valued relative to other developed markets. China was the only market of note which slipped in April, however, this has followed a very strong first quarter performance, returning close to 30%.