Russia and Mexico Thrive as Other Emerging Markets Fall

Trade tariffs and concerns over weakening Chinese growth continue to dent investor sentiment towards most emerging-markets assets

Dan Kemp 31 October, 2018 | 2:06PM

Markets Have Experienced Significant Dispersion

Investment returns continue to be influenced by a handful of decorated themes. Perhaps most prominently, we have seen the execution of trade tariffs and concerns over weakening Chinese growth, which continued to dent sentiment towards most emerging-markets assets.

This has been exacerbated by further U.S. dollar strength, U.S. and U.K. central bank tightening and idiosyncratic woes in Turkey, Argentina and Venezuela.

Elsewhere, relative weakness continued in Europe, especially in the U.K. where a lack of progress surrounding the Brexit Chequers blueprint led U.K. assets to come under pressure. It really feels like two steps forward, two steps backward as investors seemingly ignore corporate fundamentals and await some certainty.

Even on the European continent, Italian and Greek risks have resurfaced, not to mention the flow-on implications from the Turkish banking crisis.

Yet, it isn’t all bad news. Offsetting some of the weakness, Russia and Mexico had a third quarter to remember, enjoying the oil price rally and the relative political calm as investor interest returned. At a sector level, healthcare took top spot in the third quarter and notched a double-digit result.

A key takeaway from the third quarter was despondency for the vulnerable and cheer for assets that resemble a growth story. Speaking of market darlings, even Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell called the U.S. economy “extraordinary”—such was the optimism being priced into the U.S. market.

This has an obvious knock-on effect to fixed income assets, especially given a third interest rate hike in the U.S. this year and the eighth since coming off the low of 0.25% in late 2015.

Despite the above, fixed-income markets continued to be muted, with corporate debt performing slightly better than government equivalents over the third quarter. Inflation-linked bonds also performed reasonably as investors grappled with ever-undulating inflation expectations.

In addition, currency markets continue to move quickly, although a late retreat for the U.S. dollar in September unwound some of the pain for emerging-markets assets. Sterling has continued its rollercoaster, too, although the overall move over the third quarter was neither here nor there.

Taken together, we find an interesting landscape, where investor anxiety of a global downturn may be starting to outweigh the FOMO effect – fear of missing out – stemming from the late-cycle rally. The net outcome, for now at least, appears to be that investors continue to support assets with less perceived risk and shun assets that are seemingly vulnerable—even if valuations hint that this is the dangerous thing to do.

Our view of the above is that we must stay true to our approach. We live in interesting times indeed, so fundamental diversification is required as we seek to invest when and where it makes sense to do so.

The information contained within is for educational and informational purposes ONLY. It is not intended nor should it be considered an invitation or inducement to buy or sell a security or securities noted within nor should it be viewed as a communication intended to persuade or incite you to buy or sell security or securities noted within. Any commentary provided is the opinion of the author and should not be considered a personalised recommendation. The information contained within should not be a person's sole basis for making an investment decision. Please contact your financial professional before making an investment decision.

About Author

Dan Kemp

Dan Kemp  is Chief Investment Officer, Morningstar Investment Management EMEA