The Importance of Financial Planning

Monthly Investment Note: May 2023

While global GDP and inflation pressures continue to persist in the financial system, European & US economies are reporting lower inflation in the first quarter of 2023. However, in these economies inflation is still viewed as being stubborn and requiring a considered interest rate increase which is juxtaposed with balancing the cost of credit considerations. The key for Central banks is to find the optimal terminal interest rate; just high enough to continue reducing inflation but not to stifle growth too much and push their economies into recession.

At the end of March, US annual inflation was measured at 5% and European inflation at 6.9% (Ireland is estimated to be 7.7%) while UK inflation was estimated to be 8.9% and these headline figures continue to drive interest rate policies from Central Banks, currently. Notably also are the oil prices (as measured by Brent Crude) which have dropped by ca. 7.4% since early January and are currently trading at below $80 pb (ca. $79.60) at time of writing.

With the FED interest rate, adjusted in May to 5.25%, EU rates increased to 3.25% and UK rates at 4.25%, bond yields have also risen and have as a result, reduced valuations over the course of the interest rate hikes. While it was thought that the FED might start to ease the rate of interest rate increases early this year, it is now increasingly likely that further rate hikes or longer timeframes at current rates may yet be required. Therefore, it is likely that interest rates may indeed peak over the next 6 months and we continue to move cautiously on long term bond purchases until there is sight of the terminal interest rate, expected later in the year.

Global equities have continued their rally with the index of global stocks up 5.97% since the beginning of the year. While US equities have risen 5.35%, Japanese equities risen 3.02%, it is the European equities that continue to outperform with a rise of 11.4% this year so far; (all Euro hedged). This strong performance is driven (in large part) by the good value on offer with a plethora of companies showing strong balance sheets & free cashflows and trading at good value (12.7 x fPE) in other words good quality companies trading at good value and suitable for this economic cycle.  This is in contrast to US equities which are trading at ca. x 18.6 fPE.

We continue to favour taking positions in Globally diverse equity funds which are trading at good to fair value and are cautious on new positions in long / medium term bonds for the foreseeable future. These bond calls will be portfolio dependent. Conservatively, therefore, as per our previous notes, we still look to total return funds as potential alternative investments to bond funds.
As an aside, the link below (Courtesy of Visual Capitalist) shows an animation of the various business sectors contributing to the growth in the S&P500 in the first quarter 2023. Note the contributions from the mega cap companies which provided the greatest returns….Enjoy!
Click Here to See the Sectors Contributing to Growth in the S&P500 in Q1 2023

All views and details contained within this article are for information purposes only, are subject to change & are not advice. We recommend you seek independent clarification for your particular circumstances. Lifetime Financial Planning makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness nor suitability of any of the information contained within and will not be held liable for any errors, omissions or any losses arising from its use.