Volatility cut both ways in Q3, lifting global equities to new year-to-date highs at July’s end before a late-quarter pullback set in. While negative sentiment could keep weighing on equities in the near future, we think the bull market’s backdrop looks bright. Economic conditions appear better than most everyone expected, gridlock continues sapping legislative risk, and broader EM data has shown resilience. Better still, year four of the US presidential cycle lies ahead, extending political tailwinds globally through 2024 at least. With politics largely gridlocked throughout the developed world and sentiment broadly dour, reality has a low bar to clear to beat expectations.
Global markets finished positive in Q2, while Emerging Markets (EM) ended Q2 slightly positive. Despite better than expected economic data and a rather impressive bounce off October 2022’s market low, this bull market features a classic “wall of worry”—a barrage of investor fears that tamps down sentiment as equities climb higher. Nearly nine months from equities’ low, today’s wide gulf between sentiment and reality reflects a classic early bull market feature. Ultimately, as we enter 2023’s back half, we expect investor fears to continue fading away as we believe the new bull market has ample room to grow and surprise to the upside.
Global equities rose 7.3% in Q1, bringing MSCI ACWI Index returns to 18.4% since last October’s low. Emerging Markets (EM) also performed well, returning 4.0% in the quarter.
Q4 brought some relief from 2022’s downturn. Turning points are impossible to predict and clear only in hindsight, and thus it is still too soon to know if October’s low marked the bear market’s end. However, whether the new bull market began in Q4 or arrives this year, we think equities are most likely to end 2023 higher.
Q3 again tested investors’ patience globally as a midyear rally gave way to new bear market lows late in September. However, we see many reasons to believe markets will shift positively as we move through Q4 and into 2023.
Equities’ rocky, fear-filled first half intensified in Q2, with global developed markets approaching a -20% decline in May and piercing that threshold in mid-June. From a technical standpoint, history will recall this as a bear market, although we don’t think that a backward-looking label has much forward-looking significance. The difference between a steep correction and a shallow bear market is not meaningful as both usually precede strong rebounds.
After hitting a 4 January high, global markets fell into this bull market’s first correction as investors feared rising interest rates, inflation and Vladimir Putin’s vile Ukrainian invasion. At its 8 March low, the MSCI ACWI Index was down -13.4% before rallying to put full quarter returns at -5.4%. Despite the volatility, we still believe 2022 should be good for equities, with Tech and growth leading.
After a flat Q3, global markets rose 6.7% in 2021’s final quarter, putting the MSCI All Country World Index (ACWI) up 18.5%—and confirming our expectations of a great 2021 for equities. While Emerging Markets (EM) equities overall disappointed in 2021, several constituent countries had good returns.
Global markets started Q3 strong, rising in July and August. But volatility returned in September, driving equities slightly lower during the quarter. Growth beat value again—albeit narrowly—and Tech led most other sectors while value had a short burst of outperformance toward September’s end.
Global equities enjoyed another good quarter rising 7.4% and seem on course for robust full-year returns. Much in line with our expectations, growth outperformed value in Q2, displaying characteristics typical of a late stage bull market.
Global markets extended their climb in Q1, rising 4.6%. Value equities led growth with Tech and Tech-like equities lagging, however we believe this to be a temporary countertrend. We are monitoring this carefully with the understanding that style volatility is normal. Crucially, our outlook hasn’t changed. We still think equities should have a good year, with growth regaining its leadership as markets climb alongside sentiment.
Global markets finished 2020 positively, increasing 14.7% in Q4 to bring full-year returns to 16.3%—a testament to markets’ resiliency and forward-looking nature. Tech, Tech-like and quality, growth-oriented equities have generally led the recovery from the March low despite several countertrend value rallies.
The nascent bull market continued in Q3 as the MSCI ACWI hit new highs before encountering September turbulence—normal volatility, in our view, even this early in a bull market. Overall, global equities rose 8.1% in the quarter. Nine months in, global equities are up 1.4% on the year.
Global equities followed one of history’s worst quarters with one of its best in Q2, soaring 19.2%. Year-to-date, global equities are down -6.3%. Similarly, emerging market equities rose 18.1% in Q2, as growing progress—and clarity—on major emerging and developed countries’ COVID-19 lockdown relaxations continued.
Global equities fell sharply in Q1 dropping -21.4%, going from all-time highs in January to a bear market with record-breaking speed. The sudden fall, combined with society’s understandable worries about COVID-19’s impact on their health, their loved ones and their community, has spread fear to every corner of the world—and the marketplace.
Global equities capped the strongest year since 2009 with Q4’s 9% gain, lifting full-year returns to 26.6%. We expect the bull market to continue in 2020, although returns are unlikely to match 2019’s magnitude.
After rising 16.2% in 2019’s torrid first half, global equities took a breather in Q3—finishing flat for the quarter. As we anticipated, equities had more short-term volatility than earlier in the year, which slowed gains.
Global equities added another 3.6% in Q2, capping the strongest first-half since the late 1980s. As we anticipated, Q2 brought more volatility than Q1, but robust returns in June carried equities to all-time highs, with the MSCI All Country World Index returning 16.2% year to date.
Through March 31, global equities were up 16.9% since December 25’s low and 12.2% in Q1. The MSCI All Country World Index has enjoyed the V-shaped recovery we expected following the sharp sell-off in December. Overall, this should be only the beginning of a great year for global markets.
2018 was a difficult year—downside volatility returned and the year concluded with the second worst December on record. Global equities declined -9.4% last year and returns didn’t meet our optimistic expectations. Yet, looking forward (as markets do), evidence we will detail overwhelmingly argues against being bearish now.
Investor optimism typically increases as a bull market matures. Recent correction angst notwithstanding, US sentiment has improved but is not yet euphoric.
The MSCI All Country World Index finished the second quarter up slightly amid evolving fears. Concerns over rising yields, tariffs, slower economic growth and politics alternated headlines as this correction’s alleged cause.
Fisher Investments Australasia offers a variety of Global, Non-US, and US Equity strategies for institutional investors. FIA delegates portfolio management to its parent company, Fisher Investments, a money management firm in the US founded in 1979 by investment guru Ken Fisher. Today, Fisher Investments and its affiliates oversee more than $318 billion* in assets for over 140,000 clients globally.* Founder Ken Fisher’s “Portfolio Strategy” column for Forbes ran from 1984 through 2016, making him the longest continually running columnist in the magazine’s 90+ year history. He has also authored several New York Times bestsellers on finance and investing. (*As of 30/09/2023)
For your reference, Fisher Investments Australasia is an investment manager located in Sydney. The parent company, Fisher Investments, is based in the United States, and manages assets for large institutional clients around the world.