How the different asset classes have fared:
(As at 31st December 2017)
|Asset Class ||10 Yr|
|3 Mo |
|Int. Shares Unhedged5
|Int. Shares Hedged6
|Emerging Markets Unhedged7
|Listed Infrastructure Unhedged8
|Australian Listed Property9
|Int. Listed Pty Unhedged10
1Bloomberg AusBond Bank 0+Y TR AUD, 2Bloomberg AusBond Composite 0+Y TR AUD, 3Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate TR Hdg AUD, 4S&P/ASX All Ordinaries TR, 5MSCI World Ex Australia NR AUD, 6Vanguard Intl Shares Index Hdg AUD TR, 7MSCI EM NR AUD, 8FTSE Developed Core Infrastructure 50/50 NR AUD, 9S&P/ASX 300 AREIT TR, 10FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Global REITs NR AUD
The RBA maintained cash rates at a record low of 1.5% for the whole of 2017. It is still unlikely that the Reserve Bank will raise rates in the foreseeable future with Australian household budgets under pressure. Workers are seeing little or no wage increases in real terms (i.e. after taking into account inflation).Meanwhile, regulatory efforts to clamp down on excessive borrowing (a.k.a. ‘macroprudential controls’) have driven up the ongoing cost of many mortgages while increases in the cost of major spending items, like energy, eat into disposable income.
We do not forecast interest rate increases in 2018 because we do not see an end to these pressures on the Australian consumer. Wage growth is likely to stay meagre as it has in other developed markets where unemployment has either fallen further or faster than in Australia while real wage growth has barely moved. Credit growth still exceeds GDP growth in Australia even though the regulator’s efforts to stamp out risky borrowing has seen residential property price inflation dissipate in recent months. Further controls on lending and a flattening out (and even falls) in property prices may also reduce consumers’ appetite to spend in 2018.
Australian and international bonds finished the quarter largely flat. Concern about the sustainability of exceptionally low yields will likely dominate the news cycle in 2018 as central banks gradually reduce their holdings of fixed-income assets, reversing the ‘quantitative easing’ measures designed to stoke a post-crisis recovery. At the end of 2017, fixed-income traded sideways as the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan’s substantial purchases and the puzzling lack of inflation in the U.S. continued to place downward pressure on yields. Investors remain alert to the prospect that a sudden increase in inflation or unexpectedly restrictive money-market conditions created by central-bank ‘quantitative tightening’ could lead to a sudden bond-market sell-off (i.e. a spike in yields) in 2018/19.
International shares finished the year on a high note, buoyed by unemployment, manufacturing and consumer surveys in the US, Europe and Asia that signalled a healthy global economic expansion. Hedged returns conspicuously outperformed unhedged equities after the Australian dollar rallied from a low of $0.75 in the final month of 2017.
Emerging markets finished the year on a high note with strengthening EM currencies, accelerating manufacturing output and a positive global outlook generating stellar returns for EM investors. Markets shrugged off concerns about the potential, adverse effects of U.S. interest-rate hikes on EM stocks and markets rallied into the new year.
The final quarter of 2017 was a strong one for Australian shares. The All Ordinaries rallied 8% in the last quarter supported largely by a rally in resource stocks and outperformed all other asset classes in the final month of 2017.
Australian Listed Property
The rally in Australian listed property petered out at the end of 2017. Frank Lowy’s headline-grabbing sale of Westfield to Unibail-Rodamco underscored a transition underway in AREITs, which are likely to face headwinds as growing competition from online retailers places downward pressure on commercial rents and highly indebted Australian households make for a circumspect consumer.
The information contained in this material is current as at date of publication unless otherwise specified and is provided by ClearView Financial Advice Pty Ltd ABN 89 133 593 012, AFS Licence No. 331367 (ClearView) and Matrix Planning Solutions Limited ABN 45 087 470 200, AFS Licence No. 238 256 (Matrix). Any advice contained in this material is general advice only and has been prepared without taking account of any person’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any such information, a person should consider its appropriateness, having regard to their objectives, financial situation and needs. In preparing this material, ClearView and Matrix have relied on publicly available information and sources believed to be reliable. Except as otherwise stated, the information has not been independently verified by ClearView or Matrix. While due care and attention has been exercised in the preparation of the material, ClearView and Matrix give no representation, warranty (express or implied) as to the accuracy, completeness or reliability of the information. The information in this document is also not intended to be a complete statement or summary of the industry, markets, securities or developments referred to in the material. Any opinions expressed in this material, including as to future matters, may be subject to change. Opinions as to future matters are predictive in nature and may be affected by inaccurate assumptions or by known or unknown risks and uncertainties and may differ materially from results ultimately achieved. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance.