July saw continuing signs of slowing inflation in developed markets. Inflation is one of the core metrics that central banks seek to control. With slower inflation market expectations shifted to suggest that we are now at or close to peak interest rates. In other words the outlook for quantitative tightening is lower and hence risk assets performed relatively well.
The FTSE All World High Dividend index increased 4.1% and the Ashburton Global Equity Income Model Portfolio by 2.1%. The global equity income portfolio has remained defensively positioned. Banks held performed well with DBS and JPMorgan the top performers. Both should benefit from higher interest rates, while improvements in the general outlook for economic growth should mean that estimates for bad debts decline. AT&T was one of the worst performers with some sell off in shares related to sentiment around historic lead shielding used in some of their fixed lines.
Financial conditions remain fairly loose, market multiples are somewhat elevated and as we wrote last month there is beginning to be widespread interest in companies with exposure to artificial intelligence. Interestingly the VIX indictor of market risk is very depressed, suggesting perhaps that too much money has sat on the side-lines during the equity rally seen so far in 2023. The historic pattern of seasonality, as well as some areas of exuberance suggests more volatile times are ahead.