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Global markets climbed even higher in August, as the FTSE All-World Index rose 2.5% over the month after increasing 0.7% the previous month, as liquidity conditions remain relatively supportive - particularly in the US.
While the majority of global economic data is slowing on a rate of change basis, there has been a few upside surprises worth noting. In particular, the US ISM services PMI rebounded to a record high print of 64.1 index points in July, as all industries reported higher sequential growth over the month. The prices paid subcomponents accelerated to a reading of 82.3 index points from 79.5 in June. This is in line with our view that inflation will likely continue to be relatively sticky for the remainder of the year, particularly as shelter prices continue to accelerate. However, the downside surprise in the most recent nonfarm payroll report and the more dovish tone at Jackson Hole by Fed Chair, Jerome Powell, signals that a tighter monetary policy stance will likely be delayed a little longer at this juncture. As always, the Federal Open Market Committee will likely continue to remain data dependent and also assess the impact on Covid-19 on the broader health of the economy.
Market signals were relatively mixed during the month as the VIX “fear gauge”, the dollar, bond yields and credit spreads all rose before decelerating toward month-end. For now, cross asset volatility remains contained, although we maintain that the investment climate will certainly be challenging as we progress further into the second half of the year, particularly as global growth momentum begins to lose steam. We believe that a resolution around the US debt ceiling and communication around the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy programme will be crucial in determining asset market returns going forward. Sectoral performance was also mixed during the course of the month, as a combination of cyclical and defensive sectors outperformed.
The global vaccination rollout continues to make significant headway. According to Our World in Data, the UK and US have now fully vaccinated 63.4% and 52.3% of the population respectively. After recently including that data from China, just over a quarter of the world population has now been fully vaccinated.
 All performance metrics are stated in I Class terms.
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